(Courtesy of The Huff Post)
Regis Philbin bid farewell to the show that turned him into an icon on Friday.
Philbin took his final walk through the backstage dressing rooms to the set of “Live! With Regis and Kelly” Friday morning. A teary Kelly Ripa walked out holding Philbin’s hand, as Philbin received a standing ovation from a hand selected studio audience. The final show included a blend of somber and comical moments.
Ripa prepared viewers for a show filled with surprises and celebrations. “It’s all about you today,” Ripa said to Philbin.
Disney-ABC President Bob Iger, former co-host Kathie Lee Gifford, Donald Trump, Tony Danza, and more filled the audience to salute Philbin. Broadcasters including Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric were also there. Philbin’s wife Joy and his daughters sat front row, along with Ripa’s husband Mark Consuelos and their children.
The tribute included surprises like Mayor Bloomberg presenting Philbin with a key to New York City. Iger presented Regis with a plaque honoring him that will adorn ABC studio’s building.
A teary Philbin watched as the Broadway cast of Rent performed a personalized version of “Seasons Of Love.” They replaced the line “five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes” with the amount of Philbin’s on-air minutes, “nine hundred ninety-five thousand six hundred minutes.”
Ripa also prepared a speech where she told Philbin that it takes “exactly 43 steps” to change someone’s day (Ripa and Philbin walk 43 steps from her dressing room on set each day). She also thanked him for always “trying to make [her] feel like one million bucks.”
Some more upbeat moments included when Philbin’s wife Joy finally shared the infamous honeymoon story that Ripa had been dying to hear since her first day eleven years ago. Philbin did not make any reservations following their wedding and actually took his new bride to a coffee shop following the reception!
Philbin spoke briefly at the end of the hour and gave his final goodbye. He thanked his show staff, producers, viewers, his family and his friends. Philbin described his move from Los Angeles to New York as the “last chance [he] had in this business…to make it here…” He acknowledged how grateful he was that that things worked out.
To his viewers, Philbin said he will “always remember spending these mornings with all of you.” He concluded by saying that he will never be able to “top” the ability to host a show that made people happy. “It doesn’t get better than that,” Philbin said.