Kathie Lee Gifford and Regis Philbin had an instantaneous connection on morning TV that was unlike any other partnership that other TV Shows tried to re-create and emulate. The two not only shared an authenticity that oozed through every volley of Philbin’s bombastic banter, but they also shared the sensibility that draws from old-time show business. Gifford always playfully teases that she was born “with a pratfall and a rim-shot,” and both seasoned talents understood the rigors of song and dance on the road, from variety shows to summer dinner theater. This duo could carry a tune and the one-liners, too.

Upon the July 25 news of Regis Philbin’s passing at 88 from natural causes, as reported by Yahoo, Hollywood Life, and other entertainment sources, Kathie Lee Gifford poured her heart out in emotional words of faith, laughter, and love for her “precious friend” and his family. Many old friends are welcoming Regis to the best comedy club of all within the celestial realms, where they can all trade punchlines forever.

The laughter and love were lasting between Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford

Kathie Lee Gifford came to “Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee” in 1985, and the comic sparks were blazing, but it was not until 1988, when the show went to syndication, that the sassy TV icon and his smiling, sunshiny cohort carried the show to stratospheric ratings that Regis still took pride in during a CBS profile just two years ago.

“I simply adored him and every day with him was a gift,” Kathie Lee reflected, calling up the “15 years together of bantering and bickering” but most of all, “laughing ourselves silly.” That characteristic remained “a tradition and a friendship we shared up to this very day,” in Gifford’s words.

“Reeg,” as Gifford always referred to the host with top billing, could always rely on his high-volume voice to out-talk anyone in the room.

Kathie Lee Gifford, however, could give as good as she got, without missing a beat.

In the video farewell message for Gifford, on her last day of co-hosting the fourth hour of “Today with Hoda Kotb last spring, Philbin touchingly opens his remarks with “The best part of my life, my TV life, was in the 15 years I spent with you.” He further elaborated his encouragement that his morning sidekick would continue to have more fulfilling career milestones.

Kathie Lee Gifford revealed during her sentimental “Today” sendoff that she and Regis never had scriptwriters or prompt cards. They simply played off each other with intuition, like a beautiful rhythm, as she described. Something very similar would happen between her and her “Egyptian goddess,” Hoda Kotb, during their first try-out together on the first morning show hour carried by two females. The blustery day in Rockefeller Plaza blue all the cards to guide the ladies away. Once again, a spontaneous repartee erupted to create television history for 11 years and another life-long friendship.

Regis is already having a fine time, says a faith-filled Kathie Lee Gifford

KLG has a way of letting everyone around her see her faith in action rather than simply talking about it, and she didn't shy away from reassuring everyone that Regis Philbin is having the time of his life in the afterlife.

“I smile knowing somewhere in heaven, at this very moment, he's making someone laugh,” Kathie Lee Gifford glowingly proclaimed. She also described having great comfort in Philbin's “personal relationship with the Lord,” which provided him great peace.

Friends like Jimmy Kimmel saw Regis as a great teacher and mentor, and his wish for the man who started “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” is that “our friend [Don] Rickles met you at the pearly gates, with open arms and a slew of the insults you love so much.” Clearly, his contemporaries are savoring the thought that Philbin is getting a return on all the laughter he gave.

David Letterman put Regis Philbin in the same category as Johnny Carson, so it's nice to think that morning and late-night TV heroes have their favorite comforts in the heavenly realms.

Ellen DeGeneres commended that the veteran entertainer had spent more time on television “than almost anyone.”

Regis Philbin yearned for one more stage run with Kathie Lee Gifford

Regis adored his wife, Joy, and so does Kathie Lee Gifford, who has remained close to the family through the past two decades. Gifford sent her heart to the Philbin clan in her affirming words.

Joy Philbin was always the preferred guest-host of her husband whenever his regular co-host was away. Kelly Ripa stayed at Regis’ side on “Live!” until he left in 2011. Ripa called her legendary cohort “the ultimate class act.” Regis gave Kelly more than a little ribbing through the years about her time on maternity leave, but the New York native was an adamant proponent of family.

Regis endured the loss of his son, Danny, in 2014. The 49-year-old was a public affairs specialist at the Pentagon. He was born with a spinal cord defect that led to the amputation of both legs. Danny exemplified living beyond adversity in all aspects of his life. The son was honored for bravery on the job during the 9/11 attacks, but his death was attributed to natural causes. The father and son had a strained relationship for some years, but reconciled, according to RadarOnline.

Kathie Lee Gifford has been celebrating with her own children, even by long-distance during the pandemic. The mom was overjoyed with her daughter, Cassidy's backyard wedding to Ben Wierda in his Michigan backyard last month.

Just like a summer mosquito, the bite of the showbiz bug is hard to shake.

Regis Philbin was hoping for another summer stint of sharing the stage with Kathie Lee Gifford for a few dinner shows in 2019. KLG has never been anything but gracious to Regis but did have concerns about his health and stamina under the stresses of the road.

Good memories between good friends are the most wonderful gifts, and Regis Philbin extended a warm embrace to Kathie Lee Gifford when he presented her with the MovieGuide Visionary Award in February. A shared hug is one of the sweetest sensations to linger in the heart, and whether in this life or the next, the heart doesn't forget.

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