A perfect TV match. After 15 years as broadcast buddies, Kathie Lee Gifford and Regis Philbin had a special connection.
“Kathie Lee, you want to know the best part of my life, my TV life, was in the 15 years I spent with you from 1985 to 2000,” Philbin said during a surprise April 2019 appearance on the Today show before Gifford’s departure. “We stayed friends through the entire game, and it was a lot of fun. Where you are right now I know you’re going to be moving on to a great new career making movies, and since I’ve seen the first one, I know you’re going to be a great success. I really mean it.”
The former Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? host and Gifford cohosted Live With Regis and Kathie Lee (originally titled The Morning Show) between 1985 and 2000 when she decided to leave the longtime ABC series. The It’s Never Too Late author ultimately joined the Today show, anchoring a daily broadcast with Hoda Kotb. Philbin, for his part, continued hosting Live with new cohost Kelly Ripa. After the Connecticut native’s retirement in 2011, the All My Children alum continued emceeing the morning talk show with Michael Strahan between 2012 and 2016 and Ryan Seacrest, starting in 2017.
Philbin and Gifford, for their parts, remained close despite rival TV broadcasts, and after leaving Live, the late TV host made frequent cameos on Today.
Nearly 10 years after Philbin’s TV retirement, Us Weekly confirmed that he died at the age of 88.
“We are deeply saddened to share that our beloved Regis Philbin passed away last night of natural causes, one month shy of his 89th birthday,” his family wrote in a July 2020 statement. “His family and friends are forever grateful for the time we got to spend with him — for his warmth, his legendary sense of humor, and his singular ability to make every day into something worth talking about. We thank his fans and admirers for their incredible support over his 60-year career and ask for privacy as we mourn his loss.”
Gifford, for her part, has since been candid about the loss of her beloved friend.
“There are no words to fully express the love I have for my precious friend, Regis,” the France native wrote via Instagram upon his death. “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 added: “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.”
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Scroll below for Gifford’s sweetest quotes about the late TV icon: