Kathie Lee Gifford Recalls the Last Time She Saw Regis Philbin Before His Death

Kathie Lee Gifford appeared on Monday's episode of Today and remembered the last time she saw Regis Philbin before his death.

By Elyse Dupre Jul 27, 2020 2:20 PMTags
Watch: Legendary Television Host Regis Philbin Dead at 88

Kathie Lee Gifford appeared on Monday's episode of Today and recalled the last time she saw the late Regis Philbin.

The 66-year-old TV host said she had invited Philbin and his wife, Joy, to join her for lunch at her Connecticut home just a few weeks ago.

"I saw Reg get out of the car with Joy, and I'd sensed much more fragility than I'd seen in him since the last time in January out in Los Angeles," Gifford said.

She said the trio sat on her porch and enjoyed the couple's "favorite thing," frutti di mare. "We laughed ourselves sick," Gifford continued. "We always just picked up right where we left off."

While Gifford said they all had "the best time," she also wondered if she'd see Philbin again.

"After they left, I just thought to myself, 'Lord is that the last time I'm going to see my friend?'" she said. "Because he was failing, I could tell."

Regis Philbin's Legendary TV Career in Pictures

Gifford later returned to her home in Tennessee but recently felt the need to fly back east.

"I don't know, something told me the other day, when I was in Tennessee, 'Get on a plane and go home. Get on a plane,'" she said. "I didn't know why, but I've learned to listen to that voice. I got on the plane, came home and immediately heard the news about Regis."

Philbin died of natural causes on Friday, July 24. He was 88 years old. After learning of Philbin's death, Gifford called Joy and stopped by the house, bringing over frutti di mare and wine for Philbin's wife and daughters.

"They were in their living room going through pictures, and there were thousands of pictures," Gifford said. "We just reminisced for a little while. I didn't want to intrude on their private family time because I remember what that was like. It's been five years almost since [her husband] Frank passed. You love your friends reaching out, but you also desperately need that private time as a family."

Gifford said she "was just grateful to have the time with them and comfort them a little bit."

"[And] let them know that I believed with all my heart that I know where Regis is and I know who he's with," she continued. "Because I had many, many conversations with him over the years about faith and about where we go when this life is over. He was very curious, as always, listened. We always respected each other's opinions so highly."

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for New York Giants

Gifford and Philbin starred on Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee from 1985 to 2000. During the interview, Gifford was asked about the co-host's "magic."

"He was an entertainer in his guts and so was I," she said. "So when we came together—although we didn't have a friendship yet—we had a mutual respect for what we had accomplished already in our careers. We had the same sense of humor, and I wasn't afraid of him and he sure as heck was not afraid of me. And we just took off like a rocket."

In fact, Gifford said the duo "never had one crossed word" with each other. She also said Philbin was "the most grateful person" and that he "worked from the bottom up."

Gifford also paid tribute to Philbin via social media over the weekend.

"There are no words to fully express the love I have for my precious friend, Regis," she wrote on Instagram at the time. "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."

Gifford wrote she smiled "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," she continued. "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."

At the end, she wrote, "There has never been anyone like him. And there never will be." 

(E! and NBC are both part of NBCUniversal).

Latest News