The sudden passing of Regis Philbin, who died of natural causes, left many across the entertainment industry in shock. The longtime host of Who Wants to be a Millionaire left a lasting impact on many he came in touch with, including former late night host Craig Ferguson.
In a tweet put out shortly after word of his death was made public, Ferguson paid tribute to his “mentor,” saying he would never forget “his kindness and support” while adding that Philbin was “truly a mensch.” Ferguson spent nine seasons hosting The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, also serving roles as host of Celebrity Name Game and on Join or Die, which lasted just one season in 2016. Ferguson was among many other hosts who expressed their sorrow over Philbin’s passing, including many who previously worked as his co-host across various spectrums.
Damn. Awful news. Regis Philbin was a friend and a mentor to me. I will never forget his kindness and support. He truly was a mensch.— Craig Ferguson (@CraigyFerg) July 25, 2020
Most recently, Kelly Ripa served as his sidekick on Live with Regis and Kelly in 2011. Before that, Philbin spent multiple decades with Kathie Lee Gifford as his co-host. The two both expressed their emotions in heartfelt posts on social media. Ripa, who shared a photo of them two along with Ryan Seacrest and Mickey Mouse in his Santa outfit, called him the “ultimate class act” and said “we were beyond lucky” to have him in their lives as a mentor. Meanwhile, Gifford got emotional talking about her “precious friend,” saying that “I smile knowing somewhere in Heaven, at this very moment, he’s making someone laugh.”
One of the more personal tributes penned in the wake of the 88-year-old’s passing was by David Letterman, who said Philbin was “always the best guest we ever had.” He spoke very highly of him, saying he’s in the same pedigree as broadcast legend Johnny Carson, saying that when Philbin retired, “I lost interest in television.” Philbin and Letterman became very close, so much so that he appeared more than any other guest in the program’s history. Philbin will also be honored by another show he frequented as a guest, Jeopardy!. The game show is set to air his Celebrity Jeopardy! appearance on Monday in which he appeared alongside Carol Burnett and Donna Mills.