Kelly Ripa, 51, offered insight into her complicated relationship with the late great Regis Philbin while promoting her memoir Live Wire: Long-Winded Short Stories. Kelly told People that there were “misconceptions” about her dynamic with her former Live co-host, who passed away in July 2020 at the age of 88. “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.
The mother of three admitted that the “hardest chapter to write” in her book was the stories about Regis. “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 explained. “It took years to earn my place there and earn the things that are routinely given to the men I worked with. Including an office and a place to put my computer.”
Kelly also recalled how Regis wasn’t overtly welcoming when she replaced Kathie Lee Gifford on the morning talk show in 2001. She said Regis didn’t want her “bringing an entourage” to her first day, but when she showed up to the set with hair and makeup teams, Regis allegedly told her and producer Michael Gelman, “Uh-oh, Gelman, it’s got an entourage.”
“I understand that probably he didn’t want a cohost, Kelly told People, “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.” She also admitted that there were both “good and bad days” working on Live with Regis and Kelly, though Kelly believes that the television icon eventually warmed up to her.
Kelly also acknowledged that the duo had some special times together off the show. “Off camera and outside of that building, it was a different thing. The handful of times we spent together, I so enjoyed,” she shared. “We went to the same resort once on vacation and he came to a dinner I hosted—one of the favorite nights of my life. I never laughed so hard.”
The former All My Children actress also disputed Regis’s previous claims that he was never invited back to the morning show following his 2011 departure. “The show had reached out many times. It makes me sad but it’s not something I will ever understand. I was steadfast in my attempt at communication. You can’t make a person befriend you.”
Still, Kelly credits Regis for being “the world’s best storyteller” and influencing her career. “If I could become a tenth as good, I’d be happy,” she said in the interview. “It’s taking the audience on a ride with you and remembering that you are always the butt of the joke.” Kelly’s memoir Live Wire: Long-Winded Short Stories is out now.