Kelly Ripa is opening up about her complicated relationship with her former morning show co-host, the late Regis Philbin.
The pair co-hosted “Live With Regis and Kelly” from 2001 and 2011. She writes about their relationship in her new book “Live Wire: Long-Winded Short Stories.”
Ripa told People writing about working with Philbin, who died of natural causes at the age of 88 in 2020, was difficult.
“I don’t want to feel like I’m slamming anyone or that I’m being disrespectful,” she told the publication. “But I also want people to know it was not a cakewalk.”
According to Ripa, she had guest co-hosted the show three times when she was offered the position permanently following the departure of Philbin’s longtime co-host, Kathie Lee Gifford.
The job offer also came with the “ominous” warning, “They want you to know who your boss is,” Ripa said.
When she arrived at the show with her hair and makeup team, Ripa said Philbin turned to their executive producer Michael Gelman and said, “Uh-oh, Gelman, it’s got an entourage.”
“I felt horrible,” Ripa recalled. “He was probably trying to be funny, but at the same time it felt like a pile-on. I understand that probably he didn’t want a co-host, but the network wanted me to be the co-host 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.”
Ripa said she remembers their interactions away from work fondly and she holds great respect for her late colleague.
“If I could become a tenth as good, I’d be happy,” she said of Philbin. “It’s taking the audience on a ride with you and remembering that you are always the butt of the joke. I loved him, and I still do.”