"He never forgot how grateful he was to be where he was," Meredith Vieira said of the late Regis Philbin

By Robyn Merrett
August 05, 2020 02:45 PM
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Meredith Vieira will never forget her late friend Regis Philbin.

During an appearance on PeopleNow, Vieira, who took over hosting Who Wants to Be a Millionaire when Philbin moved on in 2002, reflected on her friendship with Philbin, saying she will miss the legendary television host's "kindness" the most.

"Well the obvious that everyone will miss is he was the constant entertainer," Vieira, 66, shared. "He's in a league by himself or with just a handful of folks through the years. He was so good at conversation, so good at listening and such a great listener."

"But what I will miss the most is his kindness," Vieira continued, adding that Philbin "never forgot that he was this kid from the Bronx."

"He never put how grateful he was to be where he was," Vieira explained.

Regis Philbin and Meredith Vieira
Mike Coppola/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty

Vieira said that Philbin was "a humble guy even though he always laughed about 'Regis did this' or 'Regis did that.'"

"He at his heart, he was poking fun at himself," she shared. "He was just a good guy."

Vieira went on to reveal that when she started her talk show The Meredith Vieira Show in 2014, Philbin was one of the first people to ask if she needed help.

"It's really hard to launch a talk show, really, really hard — and hard to get people to come on. Is it going to be good, is it not? Nobody wants to be the one to step into the pool first," Vieira shared. "Regis was one of the first people who called me and said 'What do you need? I'm there.' [He] didn't have to do that. He did it because I think he knew what it was like. He wanted to show his support."

"That's who he was and I will miss that a lot. 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," Vieira added.

Philbin died on July 24, PEOPLE confirmed.

"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," his family shared with PEOPLE in an exclusive statement.

The television host was buried days later at Cedar Grove Cemetery on the campus of Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana.

"Regis was laid to rest at his beloved Notre Dame, following a private ceremony on Wednesday. Again, our family would like to thank everyone for the incredible love and support you've given us and for the hilarious tributes and touching memories you've shared," the Philbin family said in a statement to PEOPLE.

Philbin graduated from Notre Dame in 1953 with a sociology degree. He stayed involved with the school over the years, donating $2.75 million to the university in 2001 to create the Philbin Studio Theater, a performance art venue on campus. He was also a Notre Dame sports superfan.

Regis Philbin

Philbin's incredible career spanned more than five decades and he holds the Guinness World Record for most hours on U.S. television.

In 1988, Philbin began his run as host of Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee alongside Kathie Lee Gifford. After 15 years, Gifford left the ABC show, but the pair remained close after her departure.

Philbin also served as the original host of the widely popular game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? from 1999 to 2002. In addition, the New York City native's hosting credits include Million Dollar Password, the first season of America's Got Talent, as well as a reoccurring co-host seat on Rachael Ray.

His death came just one month before his 89th birthday.

He is survived by his wife Joy Philbin and their daughters Jennifer and Joanna.