NEW YORK — Saturday, the death of television star Regis Philbin took the entertainment industry — and fans — by surprise.
The 88-year-old passed away on Friday due to natural causes, according to a family statement. Soon, notable names across the entertainment industry shared their condolences and personal stories about the legendary star.
Philbin's longtime former "Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee" co-host Kathy Lee Gifford posted a tribute on Instagram to her "precious friend."
"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. I smile knowing somewhere in Heaven, at this very moment, he’s making someone laugh. 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," Gifford wrote.
In a joint statement, "Live!" hosts Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest shared their condolences and thoughts of the man who helped shape the program into what it is today.
"We are beyond saddened to learn about the loss of Regis Philbin. 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," the hosts' statement read.
TV personality Meredith Vieira, who took over hosting duties on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" after Philbin, called the icon "one of the greatest guys in show business."
"One of the greatest guys in show business is now entertaining the angels as only he can. I loved Regis. His wit was only surpassed by his huge heart. He will be so missed," Vieira tweeted.
Fellow longtime TV host Larry King also remembered Philbin's career and how "he could do it all."
"Regis Philbin was such a prolific talent. He could do it all, and we loved him for it. I will miss him every day. My heartfelt condolences to Joy and his family," King tweeted.
Television host Ellen DeGeneres summed up what many on social media voiced, though, saying Philbin's time on screens left us "all better for it."
"Regis Philbin spent more time on television than almost anyone. And we were all better for it. Sending love to his family and his fans," tweeted DeGeneres.
Late night host Jimmy Kimmel also paid respect to Philbin on Twitter.
"Regis was a great broadcaster, a good friend and a tremendous amount of fun. He leaves behind a beautiful family and a TV legacy that will likely go unmatched. Regis, I hope our friend Rickles met you at the pearly gates with open arms and a slew of the insults you loved so much," he wrote.
Even President Donald Trump, a long friend of Philbin in New York, expressed his condolences on Twitter.
"One of the greats in the history of television, Regis Philbin has passed on to even greater airwaves, at 88. He was a fantastic person, and my friend. He kept telling me to run for President. Holds the record for “most live television”, and he did it well. Regis, we love you," said Trump. "And to Joy, his wonderful wife who he loved so much, my warmest condolences!!!"
Many more condolences are expected to be released in honor of the TV legend.
This story was originally published by Mark Saunders at KGTV.