Kelly Ripa Pays Tribute to Departing Regis Philbin

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'Live!' co-host says she is having trouble coming to terms with the reality of Tuesday's surprising retirement announcement.

Regis Philbin's announcement that he will be leaving Live! With Regis and Kelly has left his co-host already pondering a Regis-less future.

"While I realize that nothing is forever, still I had always hoped there would be an exception," Kelly Ripa said in a statement Tuesday. "I can't overstate what Regis has brought to the table.

Philbin said on the air that morning that he would be stepping down from the show, which he has hosted for 28 years, sometime around the end of the summer.

"His chair might soon be empty but the wonderful moments I have experienced with him over the past 10 years will always make him a meaningful part of my life," Ripa added. His former co-host Kathie Lee Gifford expressed doubt on Tuesday that Philbin would be retired for long.

Live! executive producer Michael Gelman, who has worked with Philbin since he began hosting the show, also paid his respects.

"Not only is he a broadcast legend, he's been my friend, mentor and coworker for 28 years," said Gelman in a statement. "I understand how after his 50-plus years in front of the camera, waking up early day after day, he's ready to step back from the daily grind."

"We'll all miss him," Gelman added. "There's no one like Regis."