Kelly Ripa is “beyond saddened” by the sudden passing of Regis Philbin, she announced in a joint statement with Ryan Seacrest on Saturday.
The iconic talk and game show host died of natural causes at the age of 88, his family confirmed in a statement to Fox News.
“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. We were beyond lucky to have hi as a mentor in our careers and spire everyday to fill his shoes on the show,” Ripa and her current co-host Seacrest announced via Instagram.
REGIS PHILBIN, ICONIC TELEVISION HOST, DEAD AT 88
The statement continues: “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.”
Ripa’s statement was written on Instagram underneath a throwback photo of herself, Philbin and Seacrest standing next to Mickey Mouse.
Philbin and Ripa began their co-hosting duties on “Live! with Regis and Kelly” in 2001, following Kathie Lee Gifford’s final appearance on the morning show “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee” in July 2000.
REGIS PHILBIN SAYS HE AND KELLY RIPA DON’T KEEP IN TOUCH SINCE HE LEFT ‘LIVE’
A loveable duo to viewers, Ripa and Philbin opened up in recent years about their former time spent working together in front of America.
In February 2017, Philbin admitted he hadn’t kept in touch with Ripa since he decided to leave the show “Live” in 2011. Speaking on “Larry King Now” at the time, Philbin claimed Ripa took his departure personally and was offended by it. He said she thought he was leaving because of her.
Then 85, Philbin explained that he left because he was getting older and it “wasn’t right for me anymore.”
Philbin’s final show aired in 2011. He was replaced by Michael Strahan in 2012, who also made headlines in April 2016 when he abruptly left the gig for “Good Morning America.”
After searching for a year for a replacement, ABC hired Seacrest.
KELLY RIPA: REGIS PHILBIN HAD A STRICT ‘NO TALKING OFF-CAMERA’ RULE ON ‘LIVE’
In December 2017, Ripa detailed her own experience working with Philbin, revealing that he had a “mandate” that the pair did not talk off-screen.
“Regis had a mandate: Absolutely no talking off-camera,” Ripa told the outlet. “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 hustling into an entertainment career, Philbin logged more than 15,000 hours on the air, earning him recognition in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most broadcast hours logged by a TV personality, a record previously held by Hugh Downs.
Despite his lengthy resume and stamina throughout this decades-long career, Philbin did suffer some minor health setbacks. In 1993, doctors performed an angioplasty to relieve a blocked artery. He also underwent bypass surgery in 2007 at age 75.
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On Saturday, Philbin’s family confirmed in a statement to Fox News that he passed away of natural causes, just one month shy of 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. We thank his fans and admirers for their incredible support over his 60-year career and ask for privacy as we mourn his loss,” the statement said.