Regis Philbin died on Friday from natural causes, sending shockwaves in the entertainment community. Kelly Ripa, who co-hosted Live! With Regis and Kelly with Ripa for a decade, remembered Philbin as a mentor who took her from soap opera star to morning television staple. Ripa shared an emotional message along with co-host Ryan Seacrest on social media.
"We are beyond saddened to learn about the loss of Regis Philbin. He was the ultimate class act, bringing his laughter and joy into our homes everyday on Live for more than 23 years," Ripa's caption read on a photo of herself with Philbin and Seacrest. "We were beyond lucky to have him as a mentor in our careers and aspire everyday to fill his shoes on the show. 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."
Philbin's family broke the news of his death in a statement to PEOPLE Magazine on Saturday. He died just a month before his 89th birthday. "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," Philbin's 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."
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Ripa took over as the permanent successor to Kathie Lee Gifford on Live! in 2001, and she continued hosting with Philbin until he left in 2011. The co-stars had a rocky off-screen relationship after the show ended, though, as they both hinted at in 2017. During an interview with Larry King, Philbin said he did not keep in touch with Ripa after leaving.
"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 King, who asked if Ripa took his departure personal. "Yeah, I think so," Philbin replied. Philbin also said Live! producers never asked him to come back on the show as a guest co-host.
A few months later, Ripa opened up about her time on Live! in an interview with The New York Times, revealing that even during their time together, they did not speak off-camera. "Regis had a mandate: Absolutely no talking off-camera," Ripa recalled. "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!'"
After Philbin left, Ripa was left to host the show with rotating guest co-hosts, just as Philbin had to do after Gifford left. In 2012, former NFL player and future Good Morning America co-anchor Michael Strahan was picked until he abruptly left in 2016. Since 2017, Ripa has co-hosted with American Idol host Ryan Seacrest.