Kathie Lee Gifford, celebrities pay tribute to TV icon Regis Philbin, who died at 88

Joy Philbin, Regis Philbin, Kathie Lee Gifford and Frank Gifford attend the New York Giants Super Bowl Pep Rally Luncheon at Michael's on February 1, 2012, in New York City.
Joy Philbin, Regis Philbin, Kathie Lee Gifford and Frank Gifford attend the New York Giants Super Bowl Pep Rally Luncheon at Michael's on February 1, 2012, in New York City. | Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for New York Giants

Kathie Lee Gifford and other celebrities paid tribute to longtime TV host Regis Philbin, who died of natural causes Friday night, just over a month before his 89th birthday.

“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,” Philbin’s family said in a statement Saturday, according to CBS News.

“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.”

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Philbin, who was born in New York, was known for shows like “Live with Regis and Kelly!” “Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”

“There are no words to fully express the love I have for my precious friend, Regis,” Gifford wrote on Instagram. “I simply adored him and every day with him was a gift. We spent 15 years together bantering and bickering and laughing ourselves silly — a tradition and a friendship we shared up to this very day.”

She added: “I smile knowing somewhere in Heaven, at this very moment, he’s making someone laugh. 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.”

Jimmy Kimmel of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” wrote on Twitter: “Regis was a great broadcaster, a good friend and a tremendous amount of fun. He leaves behind a beautiful family and a TV legacy that will likely go unmatched. Regis, I hope our friend Rickles met you at the pearly gates with open arms and a slew of the insults you loved so much.”

Mary Hart, the host of the show “Entertainment Tonight,” said, “Anyone of us who had the privilege of working with Reeeeg were made to feel like part of his family.”

“Regis was loved because he loved people and they knew it. He had a special ingenuity with his wit, insight and relatability. Joy was always such an important partner in everything he did. I grieve for her. Regis cannot be replaced,” Hart said, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Philbin’s former co-host Kelly Ripa wrote on Twitter: “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.”

The ABC network also released a statement, saying: “We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Regis Philbin, who was part of the ABC family for decades. He was a true class act who entertained millions with his great sense of humor and charm every day. We are so grateful for the joy that Regis brought into our homes and lives and he will always be remembered. Our thoughts and sincerest condolences go out to his family.” 

Guy Fieri, a restaurateur, author, and an Emmy Award-winning television presenter, also paid his tribute. “#RIP to a TV icon. An amazing host, a better person. Regis will be sorely missed!” he wrote on Twitter.

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