After 28 years, Regis Philbin has vacated his chair as co-host of "Live! With Regis and Kelly," leaving behind the effervescent Kelly Ripa to man the "Live!" ship with a series of guest hosts - at least for now.
Friday's episode of "Live!" was a farewell celebration, with big names like Donald Trump, Katie Couric, Tony Danza and of course Philbin's former "Live!" co-host, Kathie Lee Gifford, all in the audience.
New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg also made an appearance, presenting 80-year-old Bronx-bred Philbin with the key to the city "on behalf of 8.4 million New Yorkers."
Philbin said in his good-bye speech, "This was the last chance I had in this business, to make it here in New York. I guess it was fate that it would happen this way, and it did. Twenty-eight and a half years, and we've had a wonderful show and a great time. And now the show continues with Kelly."
He went on, "Some people ask why the show has stayed on so long, and I think it's answered to me every time people tell me why they watch it. 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."
Kelly Ripa gave a speech of her own, a sentimental send-off to Regis that had the 41-year-old actress/TV personality visibly holding back tears.
"I've had the privilege of walking 43 steps with you from my dressing room to the studio floor five days a week for the past 11 years," she said, adding as the audience laughed, "except for when you have off on Fridays. And Fridays and Mondays in the summer."
As they were taking their last 43 steps together, she went on, "I thought back to our first 43 steps, and I was terrified. I was absolutely filled with fear. And you grabbed my hand, and we walked down the hallway and came out of the door, and the audience leaped to their feet, cheering and screaming, and you did something for me, you pulled me in and you said, 'You see that, sweetie? That's all for you. All those people are here for you.'"
While Ripa doubted the veracity of his statement, it was his intent that made the statement a memory. "It wasn't true, but what I wanted to say is that your light is what shined around all of us and made us look so bright," she continued. " As you go forward...I look forward to the next 43 steps, and may they fill you with the joy that you've filled all of us with for all of these years."
CNN caught up with Philbin after the show, and he told us that he was feeling positive.
“I feel pretty good. I feel relieved we got through it, I think we did good shows, we said goodbye to everybody," he said. "I thought it was just wonderful...with the audience filled with friends of mine that I’ve known, that I’ve made here in New York, and family, and kids that I grew up with in the Bronx 100 years ago, I mean it was a great way to say goodbye.”
Regis still doesn't know what he's going to do next, but his former co-host Kelly will be back on Monday, alongside guest host Jerry Seinfeld as the show searches for a replacement.
Ripa told CNN of losing Philbin as her co-host that she'll "never be able to express to him my gratitude for everything he’s done for me and for my family and for my career." She also added that she doesn't see herself ever hosting the show on her own, because Philbin's legacy is in the two-host format.
"It's really a format that he set up, and to do anything different would be sort of not serving his message in what this show is," she said. "I think that it really needs two people."
But who could possibly fill Rege's shoes? Sound off in the comments.
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you need a a classy guy who can be funny, can sing and dance he's the whole package!
If you want fun and contoversy, Ross the Intern would be great with Kelly
DONNY OSMOND! YES!
i agree tony danza appears moody.
How about his son Danny? I hear he does a mean chair dance.
How about ALF or Danny Bonaduce (sp?)
danny bonaduce is trashy..you need a classy yet funny guy...donnay osmond.
Get a job people. Your suggestions blow. The only cool thing Regis did, was make a cameo in Little Nicky.
I think it should be anderson cooper
I like the idea of not having a permanent host–just a revolving door of guest hosts with Kelly that stay a few days or a week at most. That keeps the format from being boring and keeps the viewers at home interested in who will be coming on next. Nobody can replace Regis, but I like Mario Lopez, Dana Carvey, Anderson Cooper, Jerry Seinfeld, Andy Cohen and Mark Consuelos all as guest hosts, just not permanently.
I say keep Regis and ditch Kelly...can't stand her....SO self centered....:(
I think Donny WOULD make a good co-host... also Cameron Mathison
TONY DANZA? NO WAY.....DONNY OSMOND YEP...HE'S A CUTIE
I think an intelligent cultured cohost, not a show man would be cool
Jay Mohr was GREAT when he subbed years ago!
i concur,donny osmond or tony danza would be great....bring 'em on!!!
None. If Kelly's smart, she'll do it as Kelly & Friends for a long time (until it becomes clear, if ever, that she is opting for a permanent partner, NOT replacing Regis!
I think Andy Cohen and Kelly Ripa have awesome chemistry.......I want ANDY!!!
Jerry Seinfeld would be an absolutely perfect permanent replacement... He's the only possibility I would be really excited about.
Eddie Murphy would be the best replacement!
who is most likely to replace regis?
A very good co host for Kelly would be John -Paul Lavoisier. He is super funny and a talented guy. They would have great chemistry hosting LIVE! together.
I agree ... good choice!. Talented, funny, etc.
I think Donny Osmond would be a great replacement, I see him working very well with Kelly as well as being funny and entertaining.
Ben Stiler, he is super funny...would be a great replacement...
So long Regis, thanks for the laughs.
HULA HULA ! I YAM FIRRRRRSTY ! The post above mine doesnt count.
At least the first comment was in relation to the article... plus you're way too slow. #portalpunkfail... go tweet about it.
I'M DONE WITH CHAZ BONO (SINCE HE'S BEEN OFF DWTS FOR A WHILE)... LET'S BRING TONY DANZA ON AS PERMANENT HOST... HE'S THE MAN.
tony danza strikes me as moody, to he appears funny when he's in the mood..you know what i mean...this show has to be up beat every single morning..if regis was in a bad mood you never knew..with danza he'll let you know.....donny osmond is adorable and holds it together whatever mood he's in also...
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