Philbin’s former co-host recalled her long relationship with the television icon.
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.”
“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.”
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.
REGIS. There will never be another.— Kathie Lee Gifford (@KathieLGifford) July 25, 2020