Kathie Lee Gifford Says Regis Philbin Was 'Depressed' Months Before His Death 'Because of the COVID'
"Regis couldn't perform anywhere... he couldn't be Regis for people. And it broke his heart," Kathie Lee Gifford said
On Friday, Gifford, 67, made an appearance on The Talk and spoke about Philbin's struggle with depression during his final few months. The television personality explained that Philbin was having a difficult time coping with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as he couldn't go out and perform.
"He had been depressed in the weeks and months earlier, because of the COVID," she said. "Regis couldn't perform anywhere, nobody was out and about, he couldn't be Regis for people, you know. And it broke his heart."
Gifford also shared that Philbin had lost "one of his dearest friends" to the coronavirus, which contributed to his state of mind.
"He was pretty much in a depression I think. Regis just lived to make people happy," she continued. "He certainly made me happy for the 35 years that we were great friends."
Gifford said the last time she saw Philbin was for lunch at her house in Connecticut just a few weeks before his death. Philbin's wife of 50 years, Joy, later told Gifford "that was the last time she heard him laugh."
"That was a sweet gift from God to me that he blessed that friendship even at the very end," Gifford said. "There was nobody like him ever, and there will never be another like him, ever."
Philbin died on July 24 of heart disease in Greenwich, Connecticut. He was 88.
He and Gifford hosted Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee from 1988 to 2000. Throughout their years on television, the two became an iconic pair, known for their playful banter and genuine connection on the show.
After hearing of his death, Gifford shared a heartwarming post on social media, expressing her love for her longtime friend.
"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," she wrote on Instagram.
"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," Gifford continued. "It brings me great comfort knowing that he had a personal relationship with his Lord that brought him great peace. I send all the love in my heart to Joy, to his children, to the rest of his family and to the innumerable people he touched over his legendary life. There has never been anyone like him. And there never will be."
After 15 years, Gifford left the ABC show but the pair remained close after her departure. In 2001, the franchise became Live! with Regis and Kelly, co-starring Kelly Ripa before Philbin left in 2011 after 23 years on-air.
Last year, Philbin appeared on Today for Gifford's final day at the studio and he called with a special message. “Kathie Lee, you want to know the best part of my life, my TV life, was in the 15 years I spent with you, from 1985 to 2000,” he said. “We stayed friends throughout the entire game and it was a lot of fun.”
Philbin also told Gifford that Live! was "never the same after you left."