Regis Philbin died at 88 over the weekend, and now his TV partner Kathie Lee Gifford is remembering him in an emotional new interview.
Gifford, who co-hosted “Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee” for 15 years, appeared on the “Today” show via video and explained that she and Regis had still been “dear friends,” even 20 years after she left their show.
In fact, Kathie Lee had just had lunch with Regis and his wife Joy while she was visiting the New York area from her new home in Tennessee.
Gifford said, "Of course the first call I always make is to Regis and Joy ... so I said, 'Can we get together? Can we have some lunch?' So they came over about two weeks ago.”
She went on, “I saw Reege get out of the car with Joy and I sensed much more fragility in him than I'd seen in him since the last time in January out in Los Angeles."
The 66-year-old said they had a lovely time. "We sat right here on my screened porch and we laughed ourselves sick — we always just picked up right where we left off… We 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?' Because he was failing, I could tell."
After she heard the news that Philbin had passed away, Kathie Lee “called Joy immediately,” and later stopped by the house to visit her and their kids, where they went through photographs and remembered the TV legend.
Gifford added of her TV chemistry with Regis, “We never, ever tried to be anything but what we were, two people who loved each other, who were happy to be together, and we had the biggest secret… we had fun, f-u-n, and it is contagious.”
Watch Kathie Lee’s full interview here!
Over the weekend, she paid tribute to her friend on Instagram, writing, "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. There has never been anyone like him. And there never will be."
Regis died of natural causes. Read his full obituary.