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Letterman, Ellen and more honor Regis Philbin: 'Charming, lovable, could take a punch'

"When he retired, I lost interest in television," David Letterman wrote.
/ Source: TODAY

Regis Philbin's death at the age of 88 has inspired an outpouring of tributes from the legendary host's famous friends and fans. The TV personality with a 60-year career died of natural causes just one month shy of his 89th birthday, his family announced Saturday.

A range of celebrities, from co-workers and to admirers, sent moving messages of respect and love across social media over the weekend.

Fellow talk show icon David Letterman had high praise for Philbin on Twitter.

"Regis is in the same category as Carson," wrote the former "Late Night" host. "Superlative. He was on our show a million times, always the best guest we ever had, charming, lovable and could take a punch. When he retired I lost interest in television. I love him."

Regis Philbin and David Letterman
Regis Philbin as a guest on the "Late Show with David Letterman" on CBS.CBS Photo Archive / CBS via Getty Images

Comedian Ellen DeGeneres also had a sweet message to share.

"Regis Philbin spent more time on television than almost anyone," DeGeneres wrote Saturday. "And we were all better for it. Sending love to his family and his fans." (Philbin actually holds the Guinness World Record for most hours on TV.)

Reese Witherspoon recalled being interviewed by Philbin in her tribute.

"God Bless, Regis Philbin," she tweeted. " He always asked the most thoughtful / funny questions and was genuinely as nice on air as he was off air. My heart goes out to his family and everyone who loved him."

Ben Stiller directed his condolences to Philbin's wife of 50 years, Joy Philbin.

"Sending lots of love to Joy," wrote Stiller. "I loved Regis Philbin. A television legend. And as nice in life as he was on TV. What a career."

Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest, who currently co-host the talk show Philbin once helmed, paid tribute to the late, great entertainer on Instagram.

"We are beyond saddened to learn about the loss of Regis Philbin," read the joint statement. "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. 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."

Hoda Kotb posted a picture of Philbin with former TODAY co-host Kathie Lee Gifford on Instagram.

"Heartbroken," Hoda said. "We will miss you regis. Nobody like you."

After Gifford shared her own tribute, her daughter, Cassidy Gifford, posted an Instagram of Philbin and her father, Frank Gifford, who died in 2015.

"The laughter I know you two are sharing together again in heaven is palpable... love you forever, Reeg," she wrote.

Jason Alexander, who starred in "Seinfeld," reflected on Philbin's legacy in a tweet.

"I truly believed that #RegisPhilbin would be a presence with us forever," he wrote. "He was a fun, funny, charming man. On the occasions I got to be with him, he was always a bright light, endlessly interesting and interested in everyone. Sympathy to his loved ones."

Guy Fieri of Food Network fame remembered Philbin with a sweet, smiling photo.

"#RIP to a TV icon. An amazing host, a better person. Regis will be sorely missed!" he tweeted.

The political sphere is mourning Philbin, as well. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the president both shared condolences.

Trump called Philbin "one of the greats in the history of television," adding, "He was a fantastic person, and my friend. He kept telling me to run for President."

Cuomo tweeted: "New York lost a TV legend today. Bronx born and raised, Regis Philbin greeted us for years with our morning coffee and at night after dinner. His humor and enthusiasm touched millions of Americans."

Tennis champion Chris Evert also honored him, calling out how much Philbin enjoyed the sport.

"So sad to hear of the passing of Regis Philbin," she wrote. "He and Joy loved their tennis ... He lit up a room with his humor and was a stellar human being. My thoughts go out to Joy and his family."

Philbin will forever be remembered as the co-host of "Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee," which began in 1988, and later "Live! with Regis and Kelly" when Ripa took over for Gifford in 2000. He also hosted game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" on and off for ten years and has a permanent place in American culture as one of the most iconic television personalities.