In the end, it wasn't just Regis and Kelly, or Regis and Kathie Lee ... it felt more like Regis and everybody. After some 16,000 hours in front of a television camera, Regis Philbin signed off Live! with Regis and Kelly Friday morning.
Ending a 28-year run, the "Farewell Special" began oddly with a black-and-white camera following him on his final walk to the studio. It had a little of a Dead Man Walking feel to it. But once he got to the stage, he walked out to a star-studded audience of family and friends. Among them: Diane Sawyer, Donald Trump, Tony Danza and Kathie Lee Gifford (with whom he co-hosted Live! for 15 years), as well as Philbin's wife, Joy, and his daughters.
David Letterman, who dropped by his morning show earlier in the week, told Philbin — who first came to national prominence as Joey Bishop's sidekick in late 1960s on Bishop's late-night ABC talk show — that he ranked in a pantheon of broadcasters that may only include Jack Paar, Johnny Carson and Oprah Winfrey.
In his enduring career, the 80-year-old, Bronx-born broadcaster achieved prime-time success in 1999 when he began hosting the hit game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. And just earlier this year, he and Ripa won the Daytime Emmy award for Outstanding Talk Show Host.