Kathie Lee Gifford Reflects on Friendship with Regis Philbin: 'We Were Each Other's Best Audience'

"I just miss him everyday... We became closer friends after we stopped working together," Kathie Lee Gifford says in PEOPLE's exclusive look at Wednesday's episode of Tamron Hall

Kathie Lee Gifford is remembering her treasured friendship with former onscreen partner, Regis Philbin.

In PEOPLE's exclusive look at Wednesday's episode of Tamron Hall, Gifford, 69, recalled how her friendship with her longtime co-host — who died at age 88 in July 2020 — grew over the years.

"We were each other's best audience. I just miss him everyday. I loved that man dearly. We became closer friends after we stopped working together," she told host Tamron Hall. "We worked together for 15 years and for the next 20 years, we just hung out as friends."

Gifford remembered the early days of working with Philbin and finding joy in being herself on television.

"We were a local show when I first joined him," she shared. "I left Good Morning America to be with Regis because I didn't want to read from a teleprompter. I wanted to be my own person — fail or succeed just as the person that I am authentically."

Regis Philbin
Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford in April 1988. J. Michael Dombroski/Newsday RM via Getty Images

The television personality also reflected on how the pair were at different life stages while co-hosting Live With Regis and Kathie Lee, which became nationally syndicated in 1988 and ran until her departure in 2000.

"I happened to be single when I first started with Regis. I met Frank [and] then we got married," she said. "Then, I had our children a couple years later so Regis' children were already grown, they were like teenagers, [saying,] 'Don't talk about me, Dad. Don't you talk. Nuh uh. No.' He was muzzled and Regis did not like to be muzzled."

"He would talk about what movie he saw last night. Mr. Out About Town. I would go, I have mastitis and my nipples are killing me," she continued.

Gifford added that it was "the first time" that someone had frankly discussed motherhood on national television.

"I got a little graphic about it sometimes because I'm an actress and I would describe what that's like," she said, before impersonating Philbin's shocked reaction. "He would go 'Oh!' and it worked."

Kathie Lee Gifford reunites with Regis Philbin as they arrive to dinner together at 'Craigs' Restaurant in West Hollywood, CA
SPW/Splash News Online

After Gifford's departure from Live, Kelly Ripa took her place as co-host beside Philbin. Recently, Ripa released new autobiography Live Wire: Long-Winded Short Stories, in which she detailed her experiences working alongside Philbin.

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On Monday, Gifford admitted she has no plans to read Ripa's autobiography or the parts about her time working on Live with Philbin, which Ripa claimed were "not a cakewalk."

"I'm not gonna read the book. I haven't read it. I don't even know if it's out yet," she explained while appearing on Good Day New York Monday. "I just know what Regis was to me. He was, for 15 years, the best partner a person could ever, ever have professionally, but he was my friend."

"In all the years I knew him, I never saw him unkind to anyone. I never did. If he liked you, he teased you," Gifford continued.

In regards to Ripa's book, Gifford concluded: "I'm not going to say anything ugly about anybody. I never have and I'm not going to start now. My reality is something completely different from that."

Gifford's interview on Tamron Hall airs Wednesday. Check local listings.

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