Kelly Ripa Pays Tribute to Regis Philbin After His Death: 'He Was the Ultimate Class Act'
Regis Philbin died Friday at the age of 88, his family confirmed to PEOPLE
Philbin died on Friday, his family confirmed in a statement to PEOPLE.
"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 on Instagram.
Philbin hosted Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee with co-host Kathie Lee Gifford until her departure in 2000. Ripa, an actress on All My Children at the time, took over for Gifford in 2001, making the show Live! With Regis and Kelly.
Philbin and Ripa co-hosted the popular morning show until November 2011. “Your light is what shined around all of us and made us look so bright for so long,” Ripa told Philbin during their final broadcast together.
“As you go forward, I’m thinking about the people at home who are suffering from cancer, and a nursing mother who’s been up all night feeding her baby, and the little boy who’s taking a math test and he’s afraid to go to school so he stays home and watches you,” Ripa added. “And your story makes [them] feel better.”
Later, Ripa reflected on Philbin’s leaving during a 2017 interview with PEOPLE, sharing that “he was so good” at co-hosting Live!.
“I just remember when Regis left it was so scary,” she said while discussing the departure of her co-host at the time, Michael Strahan, who left Live! for Good Morning America and was replaced by Ryan Seacrest in 2017.
“Because we – meaning me – had never done this before. Regis had done it many times, and he was so good at it,” Ripa said of Philbin.
“It makes you terrified,” she continued. “Like can I do this without Regis being here?”
Ripa, who continues to host Live! with Seacrest, also opened up about the impact Philbin had on her even before she joined him on the show.
“I really understand the show from the audience standpoint,” she previously told PEOPLE. “Regis and Kathie Lee were my life. When I came to New York and moved into my little dressing room at All My Children, they were my best friends.”