Regis Philbin’s death on July 24, 2020 was a blow to his family, friends, and fans. Launching his career as a television host in 1961, Philbin became a household name when he teamed up with Kathie Lee Gifford for their top-rated morning show in 1985.
Though Gifford left Live with Regis & Kathie Lee in 2000, she remained close friends with Philbin. The former Today star took to social media in honor of what would have been her pal’s 89th birthday.
Tributes from close friends of Regis Philbin
Michael Gelman, executive producer of Live, worked with Philbin for decades. In a moving essay for Entertainment Weekly, Gelman paid tribute to his dear friend.
“Regis used to say that he and I had a great father/son relationship, but that I was the father,” Gelman wrote. “I couldn’t agree more. … they broke the mold when they made him. He was the son I never had and a bonus father all in one. I will miss him as a friend.”
Gifford also penned a heartfelt message upon hearing the news of Philbin’s passing. In a lengthy Instagram post, she shared her gratitude for the friendship the two shared.
“There are no words to fully express the love I have for my precious friend, Regis,” Gifford captioned a photo of herself with Philbin. “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. …. There has never been anyone like him. And there never will be.”
Regis Philbin is remembered exactly how he wanted to be
Renowned for being humble and a class act, Philbin’s spirit of gratitude made a lifelong impression on those who knew him.
“He was the most grateful person in the world, he never forgot where he came from,” Gifford said of Philbin after his death, according to Today. “He was just happy to be on a set.”
Meredith Vieira, former co-host of The View and the Today Show was also moved by Philbin’s grace and generosity.
“He’s in a league by himself or with just a handful of folks through the years,” Vieira said, according to People. “What I will miss the most is his kindness … [he] never forgot that he was this kid from the Bronx. … He was just a good guy. There are a lot of great people in this industry but there are a lot that, like in anything, maybe don’t wish you well. Regis wished everybody well.”
Speaking with the Television Academy Foundation in 2006, Philbin commented on how he hoped to be remembered when he was gone. His wishes sound right on target with the memories he left behind.
“Well, I guess number one, a nice guy who did his best to give you a few laughs and make you feel welcomed to his show,” the television legend shared. “A lot of guys really, I get the feeling, don’t care whether you like their show or not. I want people to enjoy what I do and understand what I’m doing is for their enjoyment. That’s all I can ask for.”
A birthday remembrance from Kathie Lee Gifford
Philbin would have turned 89 years old on August 25, 2020. His close pal and former co-host posted a special message in honor of her late friend.
“Today would have been our wonderful friend Regis Philbin‘s 89th birthday,” Gifford wrote. “Sending heartfelt prayers and warmest wishes for peace and comfort to his beautiful family who miss him even more than we do.”
An abundance of fans left their own birthday wishes for Philbin after Gifford put up her tweet. The broadcasting icon will be greatly missed and always remembered.