Kathie Lee Gifford is continuing to mourn the loss of her longtime friend and former co-host Regis Philbin. Just days after Philbin died at the age of 88, Gifford reflected on her final visit with the legendary TV host during Monday's segment of the Today show, revealing that she had visited Philbin and his wife, Joy, just weeks ago.
Speaking on the NBC morning show, Gifford said that the visit was prompted after she left her home in Tennessee, where she spends most of her time, and headed to the New York area "about two weeks ago." She said that "the first call I always make is to Regis and Joy ... so I said, 'Can we get together? Can we have some lunch?'" Gifford admitted that she "sensed much more fragility in him than I'd seen in him since the last time in January out in Los Angeles."
During that lunch, Gifford, Philbin, and his wife "sat right here on my screened porch and we laughed ourselves sick." Gifford said that despite the distance between them, they were always able to pick up "right where we left off." She said that they had "the best time" during that lunch, which would become their last, though she was left wondering after Philbin and Joy left if that would be "the last time I'm going to see my friend," as she could tell that "he was failing."
Not long after returning home, Gifford said that "something told" her to return to the East Coast, and so she "got on a plane, came home, and immediately heard the news about Regis." Philbin died Friday of natural causes at the age of 88, just one month shy of his 89th birthday. Gifford said she visited Joy on Sunday, though she "didn't want to intrude on their private family time because I remember what that was like," referring to the death of her late husband Frank Gifford in 2015. She said that she was "grateful" to spend time with Joy and the rest of Philbin's family and that she "let them know that I believe with all my heart that I know where Regis is and I know who he's with."
During that Sunday visit, Gifford said that Joy told her their visit with her just weeks ago was one of the last times she heard Philbin laugh. Gifford said, "that will forever be a precious gift the Lord gave me, that I got to laugh with him — one of my best friends in all of my lifetime."
Gifford and Philbin co-hosted Live with Regis and Kathie Lee for 15 years. According to Today, during her final episode in 2000, Philbin joked that "it's taken 15 years to say goodbye!" Following her exit, Gifford and Philbin remained close friends, with Gifford making a special appearance on the show in 2007 to celebrate its 20th year in national syndication, marking the first time Philbin appeared alongside his former co-host of 15 years and Kelly Ripa.