Michael Gelman, the longtime executive producer of Live with Regis and Kelly, remembered Regis Philbin as a "broadcasting legend" in his tribute to the late television icon. Philbin died on Friday from natural causes at age 88, his family said on Saturday. Gelman became the show's executive producer in 1988 and continued to serve in the role even after Philbin left the series.
"Devastated by Regis' passing," Gelman wrote on Instagram, alongside a photo of the two together at Yankee Stadium. "He was a broadcasting legend as well as my friend, colleague, and mentor for over thirty years. My heart goes out to Joy and his family." Hundreds of Gelman's followers shared heir condolences in the comments. "Michael, I can't imagine how you must feel. Regis was special to so many, but you were such good friends, as well. Sharing your grief," one fan wrote.
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Philbin's family thanked his fans and friends for their support Saturday and asked for privacy. "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," his family said. "We thank his fans and admirers for their incredible support over his 60-year career and ask for privacy as we mourn his loss."
Gelman's history with Philbin dates back to the 1980s. He joined the program as a freelance production assistant when it was called The Morning Show before Kathie Lee Gifford joined and it became a nationally syndicated talk show, reports Variety. The rapport between Philbin and Gelman became such a prominent part of the show that their relationship was parodied. "Regis developed that device of using a producer as a foil on his earlier shows," Gelman told Variety in 2007. "It brings the viewers into the production."
Gelman also played an essential part in finding Gifford's replacement, who turned out to be former soap opera actress Kelly Ripa. "The first time we had Kelly on, you could tell there was something special about her," Gellman told Variety.
In 2018, Gelman earned the Guinness World Record for producing the most episodes of a single morning talk show. At the time, he had produced over 7,500 episodes. "[In 1988], Michael Gelman became the youngest executive producer ever on a nationally syndicated talk show," Ripa announced on the show in 2018. "For more than 30 years, the Live show has seen many successful changes and transitions, but the one and only thing that has always remained constant was our executive producer, Michael Gelman."