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Kathie Lee Gifford honors Regis Philbin with emotional tribute at Daytime Emmys

Gifford and Philbin were co-hosts of the “Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee” for 15 years from 1985 to 2000.
/ Source: TODAY

The 2021 Daytime Emmy Awards paid tribute to three late greats of television on Friday, June 25. Among those honored was the iconic television host, Regis Philbin, who died last year on July 24 at age 88.

Kathie Lee Gifford, who co-hosted “Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee” alongside the late host from 1985 until 2000, paid her respects to Philbin to start the special moment during the in memoriam segment.

“For 15 years, it was my absolute joy and delight and honor and privilege to sit next to somebody that you might remember,” Gifford began. “Sure you do. His name was Regis Philbin and there was nobody like him. He was one of a kind, he was unique, he was an original, he was the most fun you could ever have with a human being. And I got to sit next to him and play verbal ping-pong with him.”

She continued, adding, “For all of those years, I got to learn from the master and he was a great personal friend to me ’til the day he died.”

“We all miss Regis, don’t we?” she said. “Because all he wanted to do was make people laugh, make them happy, make them believe in themselves, make them dream big dreams like he did because they can come true. I know we all miss him — I do, I’ll never be the same.”

Gifford, 67, interjected her tribute with some classic humor, adding, “I know he’s slaying them in heaven right now. He’s up there with all the greats. He and Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, they’re having a scream fest up there!”

“That’s where Regis is and I couldn’t be happier for him and I couldn’t miss him more,” she concluded.

After Philbin died last summer, Gifford, who affectionally called her former co-host “Reeg,” penned a sentimental post on Instagram memorializing his life and their time spent together over the decades.

“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,” she wrote in the caption. “We spent 15 years together bantering and bickering and laughing ourselves silly—a tradition and a friendship we shared up to this very day. I smile knowing somewhere in Heaven, at this very moment, he’s making someone laugh.”

She continued, ending her message on a heartfelt note, “I send all the love in my heart to Joy, to his children, to the rest of his family and to the innumerable people he touched over his legendary life. There has never been anyone like him. And there never will be.”

Alongside Philbin, Larry King and Alex Trebek were honored within the video segment with additional tributes from Martha Stewart, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Robin Roberts, Ken Jeong and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

In another special moment as part of the ceremony, the children of King and Trek accepted posthumous awards for their fathers. The late “Jeopardy!” host, who died at age 80 in November 2020 after battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer, received an award for outstanding game show host, with the award accepted by one of his daughters, Emily Trebek, as well as his son, Matthew Trebek.

"Over the past 37 years the show became a second family," Emily said. "He was always excited to go to work, even during his battle with cancer. He was so fortunate that he was able to do what he loved and we know he not once took it for granted. So on behalf of our family we thank you so much."

King, who died in January at age 87, was named outstanding informative talk show host during the awards, with his sons Chance King and Cannon King accepting the award virtually in his honor.

"This last season was a testament to his love for broadcasting," Chance said. "And as much as he is gone, he is with us in our hearts forever. We love you so much, dad."

Cannon added, “We love you, dad. And thank you to the Academy.”