Regis Philbin's Live! Farewell: 3 Best Moments

Live! With Regis & Kelly is finished. Long live Regis!

Yes, today marked host Regis Philbin’s farewell telecast after 28 seasons of his fun, freewheeling morning show — it’ll continue as Live! With Kelly until a permanent cohost is found — and while the hour was perhaps less emotionally compelling than I’d expected, it had three particularly memorable moments:

* Regis’ final walk to the stage, set to a wistful piano tune, reached its crescendo with a stop at Kelly’s dressing room, where the duo linked hands and exchaned “I love yous.” “Every morning, I’ll think of this,” said Regis, “a few minutes before nine.” Interestingly, it was this backstage interlude where Regis let down his guard and allowed himself to get a little sentimental. Once he set foot in front of an all-star audience that included Donald Trump, Kathie Lee Gifford, Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer, Judge Judy, and Tony Danza (just to name a few), his guard went up, and Reege often looked more disconcerted than moved by all the fuss being made over his exit.

* Kelly, for her part, gave a lovely tribute that she said went against the grain of everything Regis ever taught her — since she delivered it with pre-written notes clutched in her hand. Kelly spoke of the 43 steps she’s walked every morning with Regis for the last 11 years — “except when you have off on Friday, and Friday-Monday in the summer” — and how he always manages to make her feel like “a million bucks.” Moreso than any of the pre-taped tribute and montages, Ripa cut to the heart of what’s made Regis’ TV run special: He appeals to all walks of viewers — folks battling cancer, nursing mothers who’ve been up all night, anxious kids home from school — and makes them feel better. “May the next 43 steps fill you with the joy you filled all of us with,” said Kelly, eyes welling up with tears.

* I also got a huge kick out of the montage of celebrities imitating Regis. Jimmy Fallon’s impression was undoubtedly the most spot-on and the funniest, but Ben Affleck’s gibberish barking and Amy Poehler’s surprisingly close approximation were delightful, too.

Less successful were a pair of musical tributes — one featuring viewers holding up cards with the words “you,” “make,” “me,” “smile” set to the tune of Uncle Kracker’s “Smile” and one with the cast of Rent offering a customized version of “Seasons of Love” that felt like it lasted 995,600 minutes and had Regis’ eyes wandering to the nearest exit sign.

We also got Regis making good on a promise to Kelly that he and his wife Joy would share an embarassing story from his honeymoon on his final day of work. Turns out Reege surprised his bride on a dark, rainy drive from their wedding reception by announcing “I have no reservations” and pulling into a Du-par’s restaurant where the couple ordered glasses of wine in front of a fireplace. Nothing too shocking or over-the-top, just the kind of amusing slice-of-life anecdote that Regis has been delivering for 28 seasons. Which, when you think about it, was exactly the kind of tale you’d want him to tell on his final day.

What did you think of Regis’ final Live! telecast. Share your thoughts — and your favorite Regis memories — in the comments.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Christa says:

    Just a little typo – but a great column! Regis is one of a kind, and he will be missed in my house! I’ve enjoyed many mornings over many years with him regaling me with silly stories, but more than anything, offering comfort during those difficult times like 9/11.

    “Moreso than any of the pre-taped tribute and montages, Ripa cut to the heart of what’s made Regis’ TV run special: He appeals to all walks of viewers — folks battling cancer, nursing mothers who’ve been up all night, anxious kids home from school — and makes *then* feel better.”

    • zen troll says:

      I agree, Regis was a class act – but a typo comment? Get some sort of mental health professional to help you with that.

  2. Ryan says:

    So sad we don’t get any more Regis. :( Last night’s 20/20 featuring Regis was great though.

  3. Bobbi says:

    Will really miss Regis. I didn’t enjoy the imitations of him. They’ve done that into the ground. It also made me fear the rumor regarding Dana Carvey.

    Loved the walk to the studio. Kelly’s speech made me cry and I was shocked she got through it. I also enjoyed the Seasons of Love.

    Thought it was wonderful that Iger put the plaque up on the building so people will remember. Truly the end of an era.

  4. rosalie tuchman says:

    love that they show all the moments i remember. the best was david cooks toml while going into com.

  5. april-ann says:

    First the beloved ABC soaps, now this. I might not feel so sad if there were anything at all on the horizon comparable that could take their places (meaning Regis and the soaps, though no one could ever really replace Regis, he’s one of a kind) but these are different times and cheaping out is the name of the game. The heyday has come to an end. Daytime tv (for me at least) will never be the same.

  6. Snapy says:

    I will miss Regis. I’ve been watching Live! since I was a small child. Luckily Kelly is continuing on because I enjoy her as well.

    • linda says:

      It was a great way to end a wonderful 28 years…And yes we are lucky to have Kelly continue…her show will continue to top the charts and she is alway a joy to watch…she makes me laugh at least once every show…a great way to begin the day..but why not??? She learned from the master…

  7. Sara says:

    I think it’s horrible that you make fun of the RENT tribute. It was beautiful and touching and Regis thought so to. If you’d actually looked at his expression, you’d know that.

  8. Lainie says:

    Regis was good but it was time…….it was embarassing to watch him screw-up so many times. Kelly has the patience of a saint.

  9. Amy says:

    Regis leaving and the soaps ending are two different things. While both really sad, and showing the end of daytime tv, Regis choose to leave. He’s 80 has 2 grand kids. Oltl and AMC were cancelled

  10. Dee says:

    “Live with Kelly?” Stick hot pokers in my eyeballs, why don’t you? Regis will be missed, but to be honest, I stopped watching years ago because of that insufferable shrew.

  11. Rocky says:

    Good riddance. For someone who leads such a pampered life, I could never tolerate hearing him complain about absolutely EVERYTHING. I realize many times it was his schtick. But most often it was not. And how ungrateful did he look the entire show? Don’t let the door hitcha on the way out. Now it’s time to start the death pool.

    • Lainie says:

      Rocky….I totally agree with you…….now he can continue with his book tour and little singing shows and we don’t have to hear about it. what is the matter Regis you don’t have enough money yet.

  12. Lori says:

    I thought the audience of bigwigs really should have been loyal viewers. I think Regis would have liked that better as well. Kelly’s tribute and her tribute with the viewers (“Smile) were both very moving because they were heartfelt. Regis and Kelly really like each other and that has always come through. I liked the segment with his daughters and Joy. They have always been a big part of the show and it was wonderful to see them. The “Rent” Tribute was amazing, fitting and it made Regis tear-up. The show was beautifully done. The only mis-step was the audience.

    • april-ann says:

      That is such a good point, Lori. I thought it was a little unsettling too, that the audience was made up of just bigwigs. That was never what the show was all about. I heard years ago that TPTB were trying to eliminate the phone call trivia question, but Regis wouldn’t hear of it, because he felt that connecting with his regular viewers was very important, what the show was all about anyway. Don’t quote me, but I think I remember he said that his favorite Millionaire shows, the ones he thought were the best were the ones featuring regular folks, not the celebrity editions. So I agree that it would have been more in keeping with the overall tone of Live and a more fitting tribute to what it had been all along, if the audience today had been just a regular “any day” audience.

  13. Annie says:

    I thought the show was very well done. Loved the opening black & white piece w/just Regis & Gelman, and that final walk with Kelly.
    I disagree about the Rent song, if you looked at Regis you could tell he was very choked up. Plus,they have been revving up to this goodbye for months, perhaps he was just all cried out!…lol..

  14. lucy says:

    I disagree with the overall article here. I recorded the show, I cried through the whole show. I thought it was beautifully done. The segments you thought were not successful I thought were very successful. I was surprised about the audience, but not to the point that it bothered me. Regis is the best story teller, I will really miss him. While Kelly is wonderfully funny, I don’t particularly care for her interviewing skills, so not sure how often I will tune in going forward. but this final show did not let me down. job well done.

  15. Jessica says:

    Anyone else weirded out that one of the song tributes – from the cast of Rent – was basically the same as the tribute Michael Scott got from his staff when he left The Office.

  16. Miffy says:

    Did you catch Regis’ face when Kelly introduce the “surprise guest” at the end, “the president…” You could tell that Regis totally thought it was Obama, and it turned out to be “the president and chief executive of ABC, Bob Iger”. Huge disappointment for him – the guy who made the decision not to pay Regis the money he wanted to do the show.

    I’ll miss Regis, though – he’s a great broadcaster.

  17. Michael says:

    what was great about Regis is he never attack anyone for theie view like most people these days do AKA all the woman on the View

  18. Sam says:

    I thought the Smile tribute was touching, honestly. It was the one part that really gave love from the fans that watch the show to Regis, and I think Kelly being the last fan was really sweet. It also gave a nice look back at moments between Regis and Kelly. I was crying by the end of it. Best part of the show, in my opinion (especially followed by Kelly’s emotional speech…)

    I agree about the Rent musical number, though. I thought it was random.