An emotional Kelly Ripa remembered her former Live! co-host Regis Philbin, who died Saturday at the age of 88. Ripa honored the television legend alongside her current co-host Ryan Seacrest on Monday’s episode of Live!
“It’s been a very difficult and emotional day for all of us at Live. Kelly, I know a tough weekend for you especially because you worked with our dear friend, a friend that passed away over the weekend, Regis Philbin,” Seacrest began. “A legend on television. A best friend to so many of us who didn’t even know him, across the country.”
Ripa, who co-hosted Live! with Philbin for 11 years, said she and her husband Mark “were lucky enough to have all our children with us this past weekend” when they heard the “horrible news” of Philbin’s death.
“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, I think, would somehow figure out a way around the inevitable. It was not in the cards,” Ripa said, holding back tears.
Ripa recalled how she and Philbin, in their early days working with Seacrest, recognized Seacrest’s talent as a television host and how much Philbin admired him.
“We always looked at you, Ryan — they don’t make them like Regis anymore, right? — And then here comes Ryan Seacrest and Regis is like, ‘That kid’s got it.’ It’s that thing that you don’t see anymore. The work ethic and the storytelling ability,” Ripa said, adding of Philbin, “He could tell a story like nobody else. He could have you crying.”
Seacrest, who joined Live! in 2017, added how he looked up to Philbin, reflecting on when they worked together during a Disney parade years earlier.
“I remember watching him as a child growing up, and I was so excited to see him on TV because I feel like I knew him,” Seacrest said. “I remember when I got the chance to work with you [Ripa] and Regis the first time on that parade. I thought, ‘I made it.’”
Ripa also recalled Phibin’s ability to talk and relate to kids. “They just worshipped him,” Ripa said of her kids’ relationship with Philbin, remembering one instance when he babysat her kids as part of a skit for the show.
“There was this moment with Lola when he was brushing her teeth before bed and she was staring at him and he says, ‘Well you’re a gentile little lady,'” Ripa recalled. “And then I realize what it must be like to have been one of his daughters. There was this softness to him when he spoke to Lola.”
She also recalled how he got her son Michael, who was very young at the time, interested in Dean Martin and the Rat Pack.
“Regis is responsible for Michael’s love to this day for Dean Martin,” Ripa recalled. “Regis got him his first Dean Martin CD for Christmas. I swear by the time Michael was 4 and a half, he was reciting Dean Martin Las Vegas routines.”
Longtime Live! executive producer Michael Gelman also remembered Philbin on Monday’s show.
“He’s with [Don] Rickles and many of his idols now, and I think they’re all laughing and singing and having a great time,” Gelman said of Philbin.
You can watch a video of Live‘s opening segment above and a video tribute to Philbin below.