Tearful Kelly Ripa Recalls Learning of Regis Philbin's Death

Kelly Ripa, who co-hosted alongside Regis Philbin for a decade, reflected on her memories of the late TV legend.

By Samantha Schnurr Jul 27, 2020 4:10 PMTags

For Kelly Ripa, Regis Philbin seemed like someone who would live forever. 

However, as fans around the world learned over the weekend, the legendary TV host died at 88 years old following an iconic career spanning decades. 

"We are deeply saddened to share that our beloved Regis Philbin passed away last night of natural causes, one month shy of his 89th birthday," the Philbin family said in a statement to E! News on Saturday. "His family and friends are forever grateful for the time we got to spend with him–for his warmth, his legendary sense of humor, and his singular ability to make every day into something worth talking about. We thank his fans and admirers for their incredible support over his 60-year career and ask for privacy as we mourn his loss."

One of those fans, admirers and famously his co-host for a decade was Ripa, who reflected on the great loss on Monday's remote episode of Live with Kelly and Ryan

Ripa recalled to Ryan Seacrest that she was fortunately with her family over the weekend when she heard of his passing. "Mark [Consuelos] and I were lucky enough to have all of our children with us this past weekend on Saturday," the mom of three told him. "We were all together when we heard this horrible news."

Becoming emotional, she said, "As people get older, you always know that certain things are inevitable and passing away is one of those things, but Regis is one of the people that we all believed, I think, would somehow figure out a way around the inevitable...It was not in the cards, I suppose."

Regis Philbin's Legendary TV Career in Pictures

While Ripa said some people reached out to her as she was the first person they thought of upon hearing the news, her mind immediately went to what she thought of as "Regis' core four"—his wife, Joy Philbin, their daughters Joanna and J.J. and Regis' former co-host, Kathie Lee Gifford

After recalling her bond with his daughters and their similar upbringing with funny dads, Ripa said, "And so I just immediately thought of them and what it must feel like to know that somehow he couldn't find the way to live forever that we all I think assumed or thought that he could…or would…or should or somehow God would give a special ticket for him."

Gregory Pace/BEI/Shutterstock

While Seacrest joined the show years after Philbin's departure, they did work together for several years hosting the Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade. 

Ripa told Seacrest, "I know from Regis and me working with you all those years hosting the Disney Parade, we always looked at you Ryan like...They don't make 'em like Regis anymore, right? And then here comes Ryan Seacrest and Regis is like, 'That kid has it. He's got it.' It's that thing that you don't see anymore, the work ethic and the storytelling ability."

As Seacrest shared, Philbin had been a longtime influence on him. "For me as a young broadcaster, because you know Regis was a broadcaster, I looked up to him," he said. "I studied him. I watched him. I watched how he would walk on the set. I watched how he would sit in the stool. I watched how he would tell stories. I watched how he would interview guests."

"There are just so very few people who are so iconic and so good at what they did," Seacrest said, "and that is Regis Philbin."

Ripa also recalled Philbin's interactions with her children—Michael, 23, Lola, 19, and Joaquin, 17—and how he would speak to them like adults even when they were little. "My kids responded to that in a way that was so…They just worshipped him," she said. 

Of the many memories of Philbin they reflected on during Monday's show, one rendered Ripa speechless. The star recalled Philbin babysitting her kids for a segment on the show, including a moment when he brushed her daughter Lola's teeth before going to sleep. "He's brushing her teeth and she's staring at him and he says, 'Well, you're a gentile little lady' or words to that effect," she described. 

"Then I realized what it must be like to have been one of his daughters, right, because there was this softness to him when he spoke to Lola that was...," Ripa said before stopping, visibly emotional with a hand on her chest. In that moment, Ripa had no words.