After more than 28 years of hosting the syndicated American television morning talk show, Regis Philbin has finally stepped down, albeit with his typical jokes.
On Friday, in his last morning show, Philbin and presenter Kelly Ripa were met with a standing ovation from a star-studded crowd as a farewell to the 80-year-old media personality.
The program offered filmed tributes to the TV host from plenty of celebrities including Justin Timberlake, Selena Gomez and Anne Hathaway.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg stopped by and presented Philbin with a symbolic key to the city. Bloomberg thanked Philbin for making the city a big part of his show. “You have been New York City’s biggest fan for 28 years and I just wanted to come and tell you New York feels the same way about you,” Bloomberg said.
Another big gift Philbin received was a plaque honoring him from Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger. With Philbin’s image on it, the plaque has been installed outside the show’s Manhattan studio from where the show originated.
Regis has been on the morning show “Live!” for WABC in native New York City since 1983. He co-hosted with Kathie Lee Gifford, a former singer. Their wonderful cooperation brought a lot of joy to the audience and won them a big group of fans. In 2000, Gifford left the show and former “All My Children” soap star Ripa joined the show in 2001.
Ripa recalled in a halting voice her first-day memories. Kissing her, Philbin said, “You see that sweetie, that’s all for you.”
The final show was otherwise devoted to emotion-filled clip sequences of high jinks with stars such as Dana Carvey and Ben Affleck impersonating Regis. They imitated his syncopated signature and excited speech manner.
Previously Philbin had sworn he wouldn’t shed tears at his farewell show, but the audience was surprised to see displays of emotion unseen at home.
“Some people ask why the show has stayed on so long, and I think it's answered every time people tell me why they watch it,” Philbin said, throwing a goodbye kiss to the audience.
They watch it, they say, because it makes them feel better. And it can't get better than that...I'll always remember spending all of these mornings with all of you. Thank you very much for these great years together. God bless you all, and I hope I'll see you again real soon, he added.