On this morning's Live with Kelly and Ryan, Kelly Ripa shared thoughtful memories and powerful words about her former Live co-host of 10 years, Regis Philbin, who died on Saturday at the age 88 of "natural causes."
"Mark and I were lucky enough to have all of our children with us this past weekend on Saturday," Kelly told Ryan Seacrest on Monday's show. "We were all together when we heard this horrible news."
While holding back tears, Kelly continued: "As people get older, you always know that certain things are inevitable, and passing away is one of those things, but Regis is one of the people that we all believed would somehow figure out a way around the inevitable. It was not in the cards, I suppose.”
Kelly went on say that upon hearing about Regis's death, she immediately thought of Regis's wife, Joy Philbin, his daughters, J.J., Joanna, and Amy (his son, Daniel, died in 2014), and Kathie Lee Gifford, Regis's good friend and former Live with Regis and Kathie Lee co-host from 1988 to 2000.
"I just immediately thought of them, and what it must feel like to know that somehow he couldn't find the way to live forever ..." Kelly explained.
One of her favorite things Kelly remembers about Regis was his relationship with her own children, Lola, Michael, and Joaquin. She recalled how Regis bought Michael his first Dean Martin CD for Christmas when he was only three years old — now, Michael is a huge fan of the Rat Pack. She also shared that when Regis babysat her kids when they were little, he'd talk to them "like they were adults."
Kelly remembered one specific instance when Regis was helping brush Lola's teeth, and he told her, "you're a genteel little lady." It was then that Kelly realized what it must be like to be one of his daughters: "There was this softness to him when he spoke to Lola."
Over the weekend, Kelly and Ryan both posted a moving Instagram message in honor of 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."
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
A post shared by Kelly Ripa (@kellyripa) on Jul 25, 2020 at 1:12pm PDT
Kelly's on-air tribute to Regis is one of several happening in the entertainment world today. After relaying kind words about her dear friend on social media, Kathie Lee spoke on the Today show Monday about the last time she saw Regis in January.
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) July 27, 2020
“We just had the best time.” But after the Philbins left, I just thought to myself, 'Lord, is that the last time I’m going to see my friend?' Cause he was failing, I could tell," Kathie Lee said on the show.
Either way, Kathie Lee was just so "grateful" that she got to have that last time with her dear friend.
"It was so precious because when I talked to Joy the day that I found out right after he had passed, she said, 'Kathie, he hadn't laughed in a long, long time.' She said, 'I was so worried about him.'
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) July 27, 2020
Kathie continued: "And [Joy] said, 'The day that we came to have lunch with you was the last time I heard him laugh.' That will forever be a precious gift the Lord gave me, that I got to laugh again with one of my best friends in all my lifetime."
Regis's funeral service and burial will be held at his alma mater, the University of Notre Dame. It's an honor that Kelly notes will "mean the world to him."
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