Emmy award-winning TV host Kathie Lee Gifford detailed her final moments with her longtime television partner Regis Philbin, and the outspoken Christian said she believes he is now in Heaven with God.
"I was up from Tennessee, where I live, most of the time and of course the first call I always make is to Regis and Joy,” Gifford on the TODAY show on Monday. “I said, 'Can we get together? Can we have some lunch?' They came over about two weeks ago.
"I'm just so grateful … the Lord gave me that final time, and it was so precious because when I talked to Joy the day that I found out, right after he had passed, she said, 'Kathie, he hadn't laughed in a long, long time.’
“She said, 'I was so worried about him, he was just ready. So many of his friends had died, his dearest friend had died a week before of corona, actually. He was ready to go.' And she said, 'The day that we came to have lunch with you,' she said, 'was the last time I heard him laugh.'”
Philbin, known for shows such as “Live with Regis and Kelly!” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” died on July 24, at the age of 88. The TV personality died from cardiovascular disease at a hospital in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Gifford, Philbin’s co-host for over 15 years, explained that when she saw Philbin and his wife get out of their vehicle a couple weeks ago, she recognized that he was “much more” fragile than the last time she saw him.
The popular personality revealed that she served the couple their favorite dish and was so grateful to reconnect.
“So we just had the best time and after they left I just thought to myself, 'Lord is that the last time I'm going to see my friend?'” Gifford said.
The devout Christian said she felt the need to return to Tennessee last week.
“I didn't know why but I've learned to listen to that voice. So I got on the plane, came home and immediately heard the news about Regis. I called Joy immediately and talked with her,” Gifford said of her time with Philbin’s wife and daughters after his death.
"I was just grateful to have the time with them and comfort them a little bit, let them know that I believed with all my heart that I know where Regis is and I know who he's with because I had many conversations with him over the years about faith, and about where we go when this life is over, and he was very curious as always, and listened.”
Gifford told TODAY that she and Philbin never once had an issue and were the best of friends.
In a public tribute to Philbin on Instagram, she wrote: “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. 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. 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.”