Kathie Lee Gifford's Heartbreaking Tribute to Regis Philbin Sparks Support From Fans

Lauren Matthews
Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

From Country Living

After news broke this weekend that Regis Philbin had died at the age of 88 from natural causes, both fans and celebrities alike are now mourning the iconic TV host on social media.

A statement released from the Philbin family to People on Saturday confirmed his death, saying, "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."

Regis is survived by his wife of 50 years, Joy, and their two daughters J.J. Philbin and Joanna Philbin, along with his daughter Amy Philbin from his marriage to first wife Catherine Faylen (Catherine and Regis' son Daniel died in 2014).

In reaction to the news, many celebrities have been sharing their love for Regis, including his Live! co-host, Kelly Ripa. Along with Kathie Lee Gifford, Regis rose to fame as the co-host of Live! With Regis and Kathy Lee starting in the late '80s. In 2001, following Kathie Lee's amicable departure, the show was rebranded as Live! With Regis and Kelly. Regis retired from Live! in 2011, after a total of 23 years on air; Kelly now hosts the show with Ryan Seacrest, who joined in 2017. On Saturday, the current co-hosts shared a joint statement on both of their Instagram accounts in tribute to Regis:

We are beyond saddened to learn about the loss of Regis Philbin. He was the ultimate class act, bringing his laughter and joy into our homes everyday on Live for more than 23 years. We were beyond lucky to have him as a mentor in our careers and aspire everyday 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.

- Kelly and Ryan

In reaction to Kelly's post, Kelly's husband Mark Consuelos replied with a simple heart emoji, while actor and TV host Joel McHale responded, "You guys were so so great together. Icons. He will be missed. Thanks for letting me on your show to hang with you guys."

On her Instagram account, Kathie Lee Gifford wrote a heartfelt statement to her former co-host, saying:

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. 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.

Fans rallied behind Kathie Lee, sharing comments like: "He truly was one of a kind," "loved your fun and precious relationship," and "sending you all the love KLG."

Michael Strahan, who took over Live! co-hosting duties from Regis from 2012-2016, also shared a tribute on Instagram:

I’m absolutely heartbroken. Regis was an incredible man who could light up any room. He always made me feel special no matter if I saw him in the studio or ran into him on the street. Legend and Icon aren’t strong enough words to describe him. He will never be forgotten!! Sending my love and condolences to his family. I am forever grateful to have known him. RIP ❤️

Longtime Live! producer, Michael Gelman, who started as a production assistant on Regis' local talk show The Morning Show in the '80s, also shared his grief:

Devastated by Regis’ passing. He was a broadcasting legend as well as my friend, colleague and mentor for over thirty years. My heart goes out to Joy and his family.

Our hearts also go out to Regis' friends and family at this difficult time.

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