Regis Philbin says farewell to "Live!" after 28 years

Fri Nov 18, 2011 12:28pm EST
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Veteran talk show host Regis Philbin on Friday ended his run on the popular television program "Live!" with well-wishers including Mayor Michael Bloomberg stopping by to pay tribute to his nearly three decades on the daily show.

Philbin, 80, bid farewell to the syndicated morning show after 28 years on the air, saying viewers had always told him they watched the show "because it makes them feel better, and it can't get better than that."

"I'll never be able to top that," he added in his sign-off remarks before a star-studded audience that included Tony Danza, Alan Alda, Diane Sawyer, Donald Trump, Katie Couric, Meredith Vieira and John McEnroe.

Philbin announced in September that Friday would be his final appearance on "Live! with Regis and Kelly," which will be renamed "Live! With Kelly" as Kelly Ripa welcomes a series of guest co-hosts starting next with comedian Jerry Seinfeld.

Ripa, who joined Philbin in 2001 replacing former co-host Kathie Lee Gifford, recalled in a halting voice her first-day jitters. As the hosts came on stage, the audience cheered and Philbin told her, "You see that sweetie, that's all for you."

The final show featured a several video clips and montages, including many of guests and comedians ranging from Dana Carvey to Barney the Dinosaur imitating Philbin's signature syncopated and enthusiastic manner of speech.

Gifford was on hand but did not appear on stage.

A series of younger stars including Justin Timberlake, Selena Gomez and Anne Hathaway all offered thanks and congratulations to Philbin in taped tributes.

Bloomberg presented Philbin with a key to the city, and suggested new jobs for Philbin including cabbie, New York Yankee, underwear model and New York mayor, with images of the retiring TV host digitally inserted into appropriate photos.   Continued...