Kathie Lee Gifford says Regis Philbin was 'depressed' before his death

On Friday, the former TODAY co-host made an appearance on "The Talk" and revealed that Philbin was affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
/ Source: TODAY

Kathie Lee Gifford is opening up about the last weeks of her close friend and confidant Regis Philbin, who died in July at the age of 88.

On Friday, the 67-year-old former co-host of TODAY's fourth hour made an appearance on "The Talk" and revealed that Philbin was depressed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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"He had been depressed in the weeks and months earlier, because of the COVID," she explained. "You know, Regis couldn't perform anywhere, nobody was out and about, he couldn't be Regis for people, you know? And it broke his heart."

She added, "One of his dearest friends had just recently died of COVID," which she claimed contributed to his mental struggle during his final weeks.

"He was pretty much in a depression, I think. Regis just lived to make people happy," she said. "He certainly made me happy for the 35 years that we were great friends."

TODAY has reached out to Philbin's family for further comment.

Gifford shared the thoughts while detailing a special day when Philbin visited her home in Connecticut for a lunch, only two weeks before his passing. Joy Philbin, his wife of 50 years, later told Gifford of the special day, "That was the last time she heard him laugh."

Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford smile for the camera on TODAY.NBC

"That was a sweet gift from God to me that he blessed that friendship even at the very end," Gifford said. "There was nobody like him ever, and there will never be another like him, ever."

Philbin died on July 24. "We are deeply saddened to share that our beloved Regis Philbin passed away last night of natural causes, one month shy of his 89th birthday," his family said in a statement to TODAY at the time.

"His family and friends are forever grateful for the time we got to spend with him – for his warmth, his legendary sense of humor, and his singular ability to make every day into something worth talking about. We thank his fans and admirers for their incredible support over his 60-year career and ask for privacy as we mourn his loss."

Philbin and Gifford were one of the most iconic duos on morning television, sitting side by side as they cracked jokes, interviewed celebrities and opened up about their lives in front of America every morning.

From 1985 until 2000, Gifford co-hosted “Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee” alongside the man she affectionately called “Reeg,” a nickname that caught on with fans. What started as a local New York morning show became a national hit when it went into syndication in 1988. One big reason: The authentic chemistry between the duo. They were funny, chatty and most of all, relatable.

Regis Philbin reunited with Kathie Lee Gifford on TODAY several times.TODAY

After his death, Gifford posted a soaring tribute on social media to the late television giant.

"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. "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. "It brings me great comfort knowing that he had a personal relationship with his Lord that brought him great peace. 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."