Kelly Ripa is being brutally honest about the complicated relationship she had with the late Regis Philbin, whom she worked with cohosting Live! With Regis and Kelly from 2001 to 2011. “There were good and bad days. I don’t want to feel like I’m slamming anyone or that I’m being disrespectful. But I also want people to know it was not a cakewalk,” she told People in an interview published on Monday, September 26.
The perky morning TV host, 51, who now works alongside Ryan Seacrest, told the publication that the chapter of her new memoir, Live Wire: Long-Winded Short Stories, about working with Regis was “the hardest chapter to write.”
“The biggest misconception is that it all came easily. People think I just showed up one day and was handed a job and I lived happily ever after and now everything’s perfect. But it never is that way,” Kelly, said about landing the job vacated by Kathie Lee Gifford, who had been Regis’ on-air partner since 1988.
The All My Children star was among numerous cohost candidates who were paired with Regis for live on-air tryouts, and Kelly became a leading candidate, ultimately landing the coveted position. But it was hardly a joyous moment for the Hope and Faith actress, who said she had been told the show wasn’t looking for a permanent cohost. When her agent called with the show’s cohosting position offer, Kelly says she was warned, “They want you to know who your boss is.”
“It was very ominous, and it did not feel good,” she continued. Kelly claimed her agent also told her the show did not want her “bringing an entourage.”
“I came with hair and makeup,” she said of the two people she brought on her first day, adding, “It was not an unusual thing for people on a television show to show up with.” Kelly claimed that Regis greeted her and Michael Gelman, the show’s executive producer, by saying, “Uh-oh, Gelman, it’s got an entourage,” just before the pair went onstage together.
“I felt horrible. He was probably trying to be funny, but at the same time it felt like a pile-on,” Kelly confessed. “I understand that probably he didn’t want a cohost, but the network wanted me to be the cohost and I didn’t think I should pass up that opportunity. I don’t think it was fair to him. But it was also not fair to me.”
The pair spent 10 years together cohosting the show on weekday mornings before Regis retired in 2011. The TV personality died at the age of 88 on July 24, 2020, at his home in Connecticut from natural causes.
“Off camera and outside of that building, it was a different thing. The handful of times we spent together, I so enjoyed,” Kelly said of her personal relationship with Regis. She is also thankful for learning so much from him.
“If I could become a tenth as good, I’d be happy,” she said. “It’s taking the audience on a ride with you and remembering that you are always the butt of the joke,” Kelly added, noting, “I loved him, and I still do.”