David Letterman, Kathie Lee And More Celebs Honor Regis Philbin After His Death

regis philbin behind the late show desk

The world of television recently lost one of its most recognizable personalities, as longtime talk show host and game show host Regis Philbin passed away over the weekend. To be expected, tons of celebs offered up touching messages and memories online about Philbin after his death, with some of the most notable tributes coming from the colleagues who knew him best, such as former co-hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Kelly Ripa, as well as late night legend David Letterman.

For those unaware, Regis Philbin was a beloved guest on The Late Show during David Letterman's tenure, having made over 120 appearances during Letterman's 22-year run that ended in 2015. (Not to mention the dozen or so appearances he made on NBC's Late Night with David Letterman prior to the CBS switch.) After the former's death, Letterman released a touching statement (via Variety) that held Philbin up in high regard.

In the same category as Carson. Superlative. He was on our show a million times, always the best guest we ever had, charming, lovable and could take a punch. When he retired I lost interest in television. I love him.

Regis Philbin officially retired from his morning show career back in 2011, and it's not hard to imagine that David Letterman chunked his TV into a dumpster after that. Of course, he wouldn't have been able to catch Philbin's guest appearances on a variety of shows such as Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Rachel Ray, Snoop Dogg Presents The Joker's Wild and others.

Of course, Regis Philbin spent many of those pre-retirement years sitting alongside Kathie Lee Gifford for Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, which went by that distinction from 1988-2000, when the latter left the show to transition to NBC's Today. While there was allegedly a communication gap for a while, two remained close in more recent years, however, with Philbin even sending Gifford a farewell video when she vacated Today. Gifford had in fact just had lunch with Philbin and his wife Joy just two weeks prior to his death. To be expected, she shared a lovingly emotional post about her longtime friend.

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There most certainly will never be another entertainer (or otherwise) quite like Regis Philbin, not that people haven't put forth the effort to be a proper substitute. For example, the rebooted Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? is fine enough, but new host Jimmy Kimmel has a completely different vibe from Philbin's optimistically nervous energy and conversational tone. That said, Kimmel did offer up his own condolences 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.

In fact, the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? took to its Instagram page to also offer up some kind words about the former host.

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.

Somewhat strangely – or perhaps not, depending on how you feel about the way Regis' retirement went down – his former co-host Kelly Ripa offered up a joint statement with her current co-host Ryan Seacrest, rather than penning an exclusively personal tribute.

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. - Kelly and Ryan

Considering so much of Regis Philbin's TV career happened on ABC, even Disney's Executive Chairman Bob Iger took a moment to mourn on Twitter.

We are heartbroken to hear that a long time colleague & friend, #regisphilbin passed away at the age of 88. Regis graced us with warmth, humor & a self-deprecating wit, always bringing happiness to us all. Our hearts go out to Joy and to his family. Rest In Peace, Regis.

And while there are obviously many more messages being shared across social media celebrating Regis Philbin's life and accomplishments, it seems fitting to end on a message that, much like David Letterman and Kathie Lee Gifford's words at the top of this article, is unmistakably personal and heartfelt. In the words of Karate Kid and Cobra Kai star Ralph Macchio:

My first ever live interview was on a morning show called AM Los Angeles. It was a 1 on 1 interview with the great Regis Philbin. U never forget your first. And I’ll never forget how at ease he made me feel. And for the numerous other times we met over the years. RIP #Regis

We at CinemaBlend send our thoughts and condolences to Regis Philbin's family and friends during their time of mourning.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.