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Regis Philbin promised Katie Couric he wouldn’t cry on his final Live! broadcast, the show he’s been co-hosting for more than two decades. And while his eyes certainly looked moist multiple times during the emotional hour, he did not devolve into waterworks.
Kelly Ripa did get choked up introducing a montage segment of their 10 years together as co-hosts.
“I’ve had the privilege of walking 43 steps with you from my dressing room to the studio floor, five days a week, except when you have Fridays off, and Fridays and Mondays in the summer,” said Ripa.
The studio audience was packed with celebrity guests including Donald Trump, Alan Alda, Kathie Lee Gifford (Philbin’s co-host for 15 years), Frank Gifford, Couric sat next to Diane Sawyer in the front row. Disney CEO Bob Iger and Anne Sweeney, Disney/ABC Television Group president, also had front-row seats. Tony Danza shouted: “We love you Regis!” when Ripa and Philbin walked onto the stage together for the last time.
The show opened with a montage of the various impressions of Philbin over the years from guests (Ben Affleck, Martin Short, Ted Koppel, Barney the Purple Dinosaur) and Dana Carvey and Darrell Hammond’s Saturday Night Live spoofs.
Philbin’s wife Joy and their daughters Joanna and JJ were also on hand to reminisce and tell embarrassing stories.
Actors including Emma Stone, Shia LeBeouf and Selena Gomez – many of them multiple vintages younger than the 80-year-old Philbin – offered taped farewells.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented Philbin with a key to the city. He also had some suggestions for Philbin’s next job: taxi driver, Grey’s Papaya worker, New York Yankees member, shirtless underwear model gracing a giant billboard in Times Square or mayor.
“You have been New York City’s biggest fan, and New York feels the same way about you,” said Bloomberg. “Whatever you do, I hope you do it in New York.”
Iger also had a gift for Philbin; a plaque with Philbin’s face on it had been affixed to the ABC building on Columbus Ave.
Philbin had the last word: “I’ll never be able to answer all the cards and messages, especially in the last few weeks. Thank you very much for these years together. God bless you all, and I hope I see you again real soon.”
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