David Letterman Honors Regis Philbin in Moving Tribute: 'Always the Best Guest We Ever Had'
Longtime television host Regis Philbin died on July 24
Letterman, 73, shared a heartfelt statement on Twitter on Saturday in tribute to Philbin, who died Friday of natural causes.
"Regis is in the same category as [Johnny] Carson," Letterman wrote. "Superlative. He was on our show a million times, always the best guest we ever had, charming, lovable and could take a punch. When he retired I lost interest in television. I love him."
As two of television's most popular and successful talk show hosts, Letterman and Philbin were close colleagues over the years and appeared on each other's shows many times.
Philbin racked up a total of 150 appearances on Late Night and Late Show with David Letterman — more than any other guest in Letterman’s talk show history — and made his last appearance in 2015, for Letterman's penultimate episode as host of the NBC talk show.
The late star even guest hosted for Late Show in 2000 while Letterman while recovering from a quintuple-bypass surgery.
Philbin's family confirmed the talk show's death in an exclusive statement to PEOPLE on Saturday.
"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," the Philbin family said.
"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," the statement added.
"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," Gifford, 66, wrote on Instagram.
Ripa, who took over for Gifford in 2001, also honored Philbin on social media.
"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," Ripa, 49, shared in her moving tribute.