'Live!' family reacts to Regis Philbin's death

NEW YORK -- The extended family of "Live with Kelly and Ryan" is mourning the death of the beloved Regis Philbin, the show's founding host who left the franchise in 2011 but very much remained a presence in the hearts of staff and viewers alike.

"Our hearts are broken to learn the news about Regis' passing. Regis originated 'Live' as a local New York broadcast back in 1983, and for more than 27 years he poured his heart and soul into the show. Many of the members of our staff began their careers at 'Live' with Regis, and were lucky enough to learn from a master broadcaster. Our hearts go out to Joy and his family," said a statement signed the 'Live' family. In a post later Saturday evening, the "Live" family said they were "in shock, heartbroken and still gathering our thoughts, feelings, and memories. Not only did we lose a legend and mentor...but a friend and family member."

"Live" will air a special tribute to Philbin when it airs at 9 a.m. Monday.



Longtime executive producer Michael Gelman, a key part of that family for the show's legendary run, summed up what staff, past and present, are feeling this weekend: "Devastated by Regis's passing. He was a broadcasting legend as well as my friend, colleague and mentor for over 30 years. My heart goes out to Joy and his family."



Philbin's co-hosts through his years on the show -- Kathie Lee Gifford and Kelly Ripa -- paid tribute.

Ripa, in a shared statement with current "Live" co-host Ryan Seacrest, took to Instagram to express her feelings of overwhelming sadness for Regis's passing. "He was the ultimate class act, bringing his laughter and joy into our homes every day on Live for more than 23 years. We were beyond lucky to have him as a mentor in our careers and aspire every day to fill his shoes on the show," Ripa posted.



And Gifford spoke with fondness of her co-host of 15 years. She was there with him when the show was called "The Morning Show" and not yet nationally syndicated.

"There are no words to fully express the love I have for my precious friend, Regis. I simply adored him and every day with him was a gift. We spent 15 years together bantering and bickering and laughing ourselves silly-a tradition and a friendship we shared up to this very day," she wrote.



Her son, Cody, whose childhood was chronicled on the show, tweeted, "Gone, but not forgotten. Rest in paradise, cherished friend." He shared a photo of Philbin with his dad, the late Frank Gifford.

Michael Strahan, who succeeded Philbin and co-hosted "Live" for several years, said on Twitter, "Regis was an incredible man who could light up any room. He always made me feel special no matter if I saw him in the studio or ran into him on the street."


The lost was deeply felt within the ABC family, with Disney executive chairman Bob Iger tweeting of Philbin's "warmth, humor & a self-deprecating wit."



And, in the halls of 7 Lincoln Square, the home of "Live" from the very beginning, Philbin's former colleagues at WABC-TV expressed their love for a man who was once a friendly co-worker. A plaque honors Philbin's legacy at the station's main entrance.

Staff at the station shared fond memories of Philbin and posted photos and remembrances on social media.



Station President and General Manager Debra O'Connell shared these words on WABC's "dear friend and colleague": "Regis was part of our WABC Family for more than 27 years, and his contributions were endless. Regis touched the hearts of America, and even more so of our 'Live'/WABC Family, with so many deep and lifelong friendships."
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