‘Laughing Themselves Sick’: Tearful Kathie Lee Gifford Remembers Her Final Encounter With Regis Philbin
After last week’s death of legendary TV Host Regis Philbin — a month before his 89th birthday — his one-time on-air partner Kathie Lee Gifford has recounted her last, private moments with her longtime friend.
The pair had lunch at Gifford’s Tennessee estate two weeks prior to his passing.
Philbin’s wife of 50 years Joy also attended what would be their last encounter, where they had the couples’ favorite meal — frutti di mare — and spent the day “laughing themselves sick.”
“We just have the best time,” Gifford, 66, said. “When they left I said to myself, ‘Lord, is that the last time I am going to see my friend?’"
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Later, Philbin’s wife told Gifford that last lunch was the first time Philbin had laughed in a long time.
Gifford explained to her former TODAY show hosts on Monday morning that Philbin, 88, was ready to go. She recalled how they discussed their common belief in the Lord and that she knew where Philbin was going and who he would be with.
Philbin lost his son Daniel in 2014; he was born with a spinal cord defect and had both of his legs amputated. He died at 49 years old due to natural causes.
In remembering their time as America’s top morning anchors, Gifford shared that at the beginning of their working relationship, they both had an instant mutual respect for one another.
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Their shared sense of humor and devotion to always trying to have fun solidified their long running friendship.
Gifford recalled how Philbin started from the ground up and never forgot who he was or where he came from, stating that he was the most grateful man in the world, and was always comfortable in his own skin.
Gifford and Philbin had a 15 year run on their talk show Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee and had remained friends until his final moments.
Kathie explained: "When we started, we had no idea what we had!"
Their constant running jokes of their love for their "local piece of slime show" and devotion to keeping the show unplanned and true to themselves kick started what became one of the most successful syndicated morning talk shows in history.
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Gifford ended her emotional interview with a piece of advice drawing upon her and Regis' secret to success, which many people ignore, she said: to always have fun and be true to oneself.
"It's kind of like life. We never know what's going to happen next in life. So, let it happen. Let it be. Don't try to micromanage real moments.
“You're going to miss out on the most important thing, which is the humanity of things."
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