An Emotional Kathie Lee Gifford Remembers the Last Time She Saw Regis Philbin

Publié le par Vanity Fair by Christopher Rosen

Philbin’s former co-host recalled her long relationship with the television icon.

Photo by Michael A. Smith/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images.

Photo by Michael A. Smith/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images.

In a tearful interview on NBC’s Today show, Kathie Lee Gifford said she feared her most recent visit with Regis Philbin would be the last time she’d see him alive.

Speaking to her former Today colleagues Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie on Monday, Gifford recalled inviting Regis and his wife, Joy, to lunch at her Connecticut home just a few weeks before his death on Friday.

I saw Regis get out of the car with Joy, and I sensed much more fragility than I’d seen him in since the last time in January,” she said. After sharing how much fun the former television co-hosts had together, Gifford added, “I just thought to myself, Lord, is that the last time I’m going to see my friend? Because he was failing, I could tell.”

Gifford and Philbin co-hosted Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee for 15 years, from 1985-2000. According to Gifford, the pair remained “dear friends” in the 20 years since.

I had many conversations with him about faith and where we go when this life is over,” Gifford said. “He was very curious always, listened. We always respected each other’s opinions highly. You know, in all the years we were together, we never had one cross word. Not one.”

The feeling of admiration was mutual. As Kotb said in the interview on Monday, Philbin once told Gifford, “I want you to know, the best part of my life—my TV life—was the 15 years I spent with you.”

After hearing those words spoken back to her, Gifford teared up again. Later, as the interview concluded, she expressed a sense of gratitude that “the Lord gave me that final time” with Philbin, in reference to their recent lunch.

“It was so precious because when I talked to Joy the day that I found out, right after he had passed, she said, ‘Kathie, he hadn’t laughed in a long, long time,’” Gifford said. “She said, ‘I was so worried about him.’”

Gifford added, “I think he was like Frank [Gifford, her husband who died in 2015]. He was just ready, you know? So many of his friends had died. His dearest friend had died the week before, of corona actually. He was ready to go. And she said, ‘The day that we came to have lunch with you was the last time I heard him laugh.’ That will forever be a precious gift the Lord gave me, that I got to laugh again with one of my best friends in all my lifetime.

Philbin died on Friday at the age of 88. “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,” his family said in a statement. In the aftermath of his death, many prominent figures—including President Donald Trump and former late-night host David Letterman, among others—paid tribute to the legendary television host. “There will never be another,Gifford herself tweeted.

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