Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest were ‘beyond lucky’ to have Regis Philbin as a mentor
Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest dedicated time on “Live! With Kelly and Ryan” on Monday to remembering the late Regis Philbin, who hosted the “Live!” morning show with Kathie Lee Gifford when it was nationally syndicated in 1988 and retired from it in 2011.
Ripa, who was Philbin’s cohost when he stepped down, said she was with her husband and all their kids Saturday when they heard word that Philbin had died Friday of natural causes just a month shy of his 89th birthday.
“We were all together when we heard this horrible news,” an emotional Ripa said Monday on the show. “As people get older, you always know that some, certain things are inevitable, and passing away is one of them, but Regis is one of the people we all believed, I think, would somehow figure out a way around the inevitable. It was not in the cards.”
The hosting duo had previously acknowledged Philbin’s passing on Saturday with a joint statement on Instagram.
“We are beyond saddened to learn about the loss of Regis Philbin,” they said. “He was the ultimate class act, bringing his laughter and joy into our homes every day on Live for more than 23 years. We were beyond lucky to have him as a mentor in our careers and aspire every day to fill his shoes on the show. We send our deepest love and condolences to his family and hope they can find some comfort in knowing he left the world a better place.”
Morning after morning, Regis Philbin would help America brace itself for another workday with a contagious blend of enthusiasm, barbed humor and laments about the mundane ups and downs of everyday life — a visit from his mother-in-law, another tough loss for his bad-luck New York Mets, the wallet he accidentally left in a rental car.
Ripa’s current cohost, Seacrest, talked about how Philbin was always there for him as a mentor when it came to figuring out hosting opportunities he was offered in prime-time TV. (Philbin, of course, had experience hosting “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”)
“I would call Regis and I would ask him, ‘What do you think?’ and ‘How did you make that work?’ ... He was on the phone in a second, so generous with his guidance and his advice,” he said.
To Seacrest, Philbin “was on another level” as a TV personality.
Earlier on the show, Gifford, who left the show in 2000, remembered her thoughts after a final lunch a couple of weeks ago with Philbin and his wife.
“I just thought to myself, ‘Lord, is that the last time I’m going to see my friend?’” she said. “’Cause he was failing, I could tell.”
Gifford had posted a heartfelt statement on Instagram after she heard the news Saturday.
“There are no words to fully express the love I have for my precious friend, Regis. I simply adored him and every day with him was a gift. We spent 15 years together bantering and bickering and laughing ourselves silly — a tradition and a friendship we shared up to this very day,” she said.
“I smile knowing somewhere in Heaven, at this very moment, he’s making someone laugh. It brings me great comfort knowing that he had a personal relationship with his Lord that brought him great peace. I send all the love in my heart to Joy, to his children, to the rest of his family and to the innumerable people he touched over his legendary life. There has never been anyone like him. And there never will be.”
From “Live!” to “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and beyond, Regis Philbin, who died Friday at 88, was TV’s consummate host: welcoming, energetic, irascible.
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