Regis Philbin Dead: 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?' Host Meredith Vieira Praises Late Predecessor

Regis Philbin, the longtime TV host, died on Friday at the age of 88 due to natural causes. His family confirmed the news in a statement to PEOPLE and prompted tributes from his peers. Meredith Vieira, the first woman to ever host Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, posted a heartfelt tribute on Twitter.

"One of the greatest guys in show business is now entertaining the angels as only he can. I loved Regis. His wit was only surpassed by his huge heart. He will be so missed," Vieira tweeted on Saturday after hearing the heartbreaking news. Vieira took over as the host of the popular game show for the first 11 seasons of syndication, but Philbin did occasionally fill in for her due to her other role as a co-host on Today.

In addition to sharing roles as hosts the popular game show, Philbin and Vieira had some interactions on her short-lived talk show, The Meredith Vieira Show. During one of his appearances, Philbin talked about his "beef" with Vieira due to an incident with a pig.

"She says, 'I wanna show you something,'" Philbin said about the incident. "'I wanna prepare you.' They put me in a room, I'm by myself, and suddenly a pig walks in. Honest to God, a pig!" As Vieira explained, she wanted Philbin around to meet the pig as a prank. They told the show's interns the pig's name and then sent Regis in to ask them questions. The interns didn't know how to break the news to the longtime TV host that he shared monicker with a pig.


While Philbin talked about his beef with Vieira, he did agree to show up and be a guest on her show. He joined Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb on the couch to help promote the talk show. This led to some good-natured back-and-forth teasing.

"We are deeply saddened to share that our beloved Regis Philbin passed away last night of natural causes, one month shy of his 89th birthday," Philbin's family said in a statement to PEOPLE. "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. We thank his fans and admirers for their incredible support over his 60-year career and ask for privacy as we mourn his loss."