Kelly Ripa broke down in tears as she paid tribute to her former morning show co-star, Regis Philbin, on Monday’s Live With Kelly and Ryan. Two days after posting a short tribute to the late television great on Instagram, Ripa opened up about his sudden death on her morning chatfest with Ryan Seacrest.
In an emotional speech, which you can see in part below, Ripa told Seacrest she was home with her husband Mark Consuelos and all three of her children when she got the “horrible news” about Regis’ passing on Saturday. The host said that as people get older, she knows the “inevitable” will happen and that they will pass away. While she always believed that Regis would somehow “figure a way around the inevitable,” that sadly wasn’t in the cards.
An emotional Ripa said Regis will be buried at his beloved Notre Dame. She noted that when news of his death at age 88 was announced over the weekend, many people reached out to her tell her she was the first person they thought of.
A tearful Ripa disagreed.
“The first person I thought of was Joy,” she said, referencing the TV legend’s wife of 50 years.
Ripa added that Regis’ daughters Joanna and JJ, as well as his longtime co-star Kathie Lee Gifford, were all who she thought of when she first heard the devastating news. Ripa described the four women as Regis’ “core four.”
Ripa continued to break down as she lamented that her friend and former co-host “couldn’t find a way to live forever like we all assumed.” She hoped “God would give him a special ticket” because he was so beloved.
“What I love to remember about him is his relationship with my kids,” the mom of three added. “Because Regis had this ability to talk to kids like they were adults. My kids responded to that in a way…they just worshipped him.”
Seacrest also chimed in about how he looked up to the iconic television host, saying that as a young broadcaster he looked up to him and “studied him.”
“They don’t make them like Regis anymore,” Kelly said.
She went on to describe stories of his kindness and how “unremarkable” he felt his massive fame was. She also described him as a supportive hosting partner.
“He was the person who wouldn’t let you fail,” she added.
Monday’s episode was dedicated to Regis, who helmed the New York-based a.m. talk show from 1988 to 2011, first with Kathie Lee and then with Kelly. The show’s Instagram page has also been filled with tributes to the legendary television host.