During a Today show appearance on Monday, July 27, the 66-year-old TV personality detailed Philbin’s condition during her visit with him and his wife, Joy, about two weeks ago. Gifford revealed that she “sensed much more fragility” in him.
“After they left [my place in Tennessee], I just thought to myself, ‘Lord, Is that the last time I’m gonna see my friend?’ Cause he was failing, I could tell,” she explained. “I then called, of course. 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.’ I didn’t know why, but I had learned to listen to that voice.”
Gifford continued, “I got on the plane, came home and immediately heard the news about Regis. [I] called Joy immediately and talked with her. Yesterday, I drove over to her house with a big vat of frutti di mare and every gift wine I had to give to her and the girls. They were in their living room going through pictures. There were just thousands of pictures. We just reminisced for a little while.”
Us Weekly confirmed on Saturday, July 25, that Philbin died at age 88. In a statement issued to Us, his family said that he passed away from natural causes.
“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,” the statement read. “We thank his fans and admirers for their incredible support over his 60-year career and ask for privacy as we mourn his loss.”
Philbin and Gifford cohosted Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee from 1988 until 2000 when she left the series. That following year, Kelly Ripa stepped in as her replacement and the show’s name changed to Live! With Regis and Kelly. The former Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? host made his departure from the show in 2011 after 23 years.
Gifford posted a touching tribute in Philbin’s honor to Instagram on Sunday, July 26. “There are no words to fully express the love I have for my precious friend, Regis,” she wrote. “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.”
The Kathie Lee & Hoda alum added, “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.”
Philbin is survived by his wife, Joy, and their three children Joanna, J.J. and Amy.
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