Although Regis Philbin remained a major presence on television until the day he died, the legendary broadcaster had not hosted a show full-time since 2011, when he left Live With Regis and Kelly. Philbin's decision was reportedly sudden, and he admitted that his co-host Kelly Ripa may have been "offended" by her departure. In fact, while Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford remained close friends, Philbin said in 2017 he did not keep in contact with Ripa.
When Philbin announced plans to leave Live in 2011, his reasons were not clear, The Hollywood Reporter noted at the time. Sources told THR he was finally "tired" of hosting a show every day and wanted an "easier life." There where also rumors of a contract dispute between him and ABC parent company Disney, which reportedly wanted to cut his salary and restricted how much he could work outside the show.
Sources told THR Philbin was no longer interested in waking up incredibly early every day to get down to the studio. Although Philbin publicly said there was no contract dispute, sources said he felt "slighted" by being asked to accept a pay cut. After news of the contract talks broke, Philbin fired his agent and signed with William Morris Endeavor.
In 2017, both Ripa and Philbin opened up about their time together on the show and why they were no longer close. "She got very offended when I left. She thought I was leaving because of her. I was leaving because I was getting older and it wasn't right for me anymore," Philbin told Larry King, adding that he believed Ripa took it personally when he left. He also said no one asked him to go back on the show, although he did appear on the 2015 Halloween episode.
Ripa told the New York Times there was no small talk between her and Philbin while they worked on the show. "Regis had a mandate: Absolutely no talking off-camera," Ripa revealed. "He had almost a superstition about it. You save it for the show. I'd be like, 'Good morning,' and he'd say, 'Save it for the air!'"
Ripa did issue a statement on Philbin's death, but it was a joint statement with Live co-host Ryan Seacrest. "We were beyond lucky to have him as a mentor in our careers and aspire every day to fill his shoes on the show," Ripa and Seacrest said. "We send our deepest love and condolences to his family and hope they can find some comfort in knowing he left the world a better place."