The loss of Regis Philbin came as a complete shock to many, leaving those he worked with and interacted with over his illustrious career at a loss for words. Philbin, who died at the age of 88 to natural causes, found himself in the entertainment industry for a handful of decades, but one of his most prominent roles was as the host of Live with Regis and Kathie Lee.
Joined alongside by co-host Kathie Lee Gifford, the show debuted on Sept. 5, 1988. The two went on to stay together into the next decade up until 2000. A clip from the first episode of the syndicated show has resurfaced in the wake of his death. In it, Philbin, who is sporting a suit jacket with a red tie, along with Gifford in a red jacket herself, begins by welcoming the audience, “It’s the beginning of a new talk show across America, and I guess you’re wondering why another talk show.” Philbin said the two were “excited at having the show go national” after the two had worked together since 1985 on The Morning Show. The first story he told in that premiere episode was about how his digital alarm clock — new at the time — did not go off in the morning as the host admitted one day he would like to “smash it with a hammer.”
I grew up on Regis, he made morning television fun.
Here is a clip from his first national broadcast for Live Regis & Kathie Lee in 1988. RIP. pic.twitter.com/W2LhV3KHvQ— 𝐭𝐫𝐞𝐲 𝐭𝐚𝐲𝐥𝐨𝐫 (@treytylor) July 25, 2020
The two built tremendous chemistry over their years together before eventually going their separate ways. Philbin continued to host Live, first by himself, before eventually adding Kelly Ripa to the program where she would stay from 2001 to 2011 until taking over the mantle after his departure. The relationship Philbin built with both was clearly evident and further supported over the past few days as both Gifford and Ripa expressed touching tributes to the late host.
Gifford appeared on NBC’s TODAY on Monday, where she explained how she was “grateful” to have been able to see him just a few weeks before his passing. She spoke about the early beginnings of their time together, saying that when their show began, “we had no idea what we had.” In talking about their iconic show, Gifford said they made it clear early on that they didn’t want the show to be “overproduced,” instead focusing on it being them two sitting together and just having “fun together.” Ripa also shared a heartwarming message after learning of his death, posting on Instagram and referring to him as the “ultimate class act.”