The Real Reason Regis Philbin And Kelly Ripa Lost Touch

Former Live! with Regis and Kelly co-hosts Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa kicked off their professional relationship in 2001 when Ripa took over Kathie Lee Gifford's long-held position. Although there were plenty of viable options, Ripa — who had starred on ABC's All My Children in the '90s — landed the gig after Philbin invited her to the show for a tryout. 

He outlined that process in his autobiography, How I Got This Way (via The Washington Post,) explaining that Ripa came to mind because she had been a guest on the show and he remembered her exuding "a natural, quick-witted, unaffected, confident, fun-loving kind of sparkle." Sure enough, Ripa was a hit during the audition process. "She was the right choice and really the only choice," Philbin said. Sounds like these two were destined for BFF-dom, right? 

Alas, as many Hollywood pairings tend to go, this dynamic reportedly disintegrated over a seemingly silly understanding. We won't divulge the behind-the-scenes drama just yet, but we do know things took a turn after Philbin exited the show in 2011, leaving Ripa in need of a new co-host. 

Nearly a decade later, Ripa partnered with media mogul Ryan Seacrest to co-host the show, but it sounds like she never fully mended fences with the man who helped kick-start her talk show career. Are you ready to revisit this alleged falling out? Here's the real reason Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa supposedly stopped speaking in the years before the talk show host's death on July 24, 2020.

Rumor has it Regis Philbin didn't leave on his own accord

What could Regis Philbin have possibly done to tick off Kelly Ripa? He seemed like a pretty harmless guy, no? Philbin shed some light on the gossip in February 2017, when he appeared on Larry King Now and admitted that he and Ripa hadn't really kept in touch. "She got very offended when I left," he said. "She thought I was leaving because of her. I was leaving because I was getting older and it wasn't right for me anymore." (Philbin was 80 when he bid adieu to Live!)

Although this could be nothing more than speculation, radio host Howard Stern added fuel to the fire in October 2019, when he claimed Ripa and Philbin were at "war," per USA Today. "They don't talk or anything as far as I know," Stern said on his talk show. "I thought it was an issue where Kelly felt that she should've been told by Regis that he was leaving the show." That theory took an even more complicated turn when Stern's co-host, Robin Quivers, alleged Philbin didn't leave "on his own accord." Fellow talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, who was appearing on Stern's show, also claimed Philbin didn't have much choice in the matter.

Okay, so if Philbin was pushed out, why would Ripa supposedly harbor bad feelings? Well, there are theories about that too.

Kelly Ripa claims Regis Philbin wouldn't talk to her off the air

Of course, there are two sides to every story, and the drama surrounding Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa is no exception to this rule. It's possible Philbin wasn't the easiest person to work with, despite his seemingly sunny demeanor when the cameras were rolling. 

"Regis had a mandate: Absolutely no talking off-camera," Ripa dished to The New York Times in December 2017. "He had almost a superstition about it. You save it for the show. I'd be like, 'Good morning,' and he'd say, 'Save it for the air!'" Although we can understand Philbin's perspective from a professional standpoint, that philosophy might have made things unnecessarily awkward between the two. Think about it: If they never talked off camera while co-starring on a talk show, why would they keep in touch today?

Despite all this talk of sour grapes, there's no denying these two had a successful 10-year run together on Live! with Regis and Kelly. And hey, at least Philbin found a good friend in his former co-host, Kathie Lee Gifford.

Kelly Ripa paid homage to Regis Philbin after his death

Shortly after Regis Philbin's death on July 24, 2020, Kelly Ripa took to Instagram to release a statement on behalf of her herself and Ryan Seacrest, her co-host on Live with Kelly and Ryan. "We are beyond saddened to learn about the loss of Regis Philbin. He was the ultimate class act, bringing his laughter and joy into our homes everyday on Live for more than 23 years," the statement reads. "We were beyond lucky to have him as a mentor in our careers and aspire everyday to fill his shoes on the show. We send our deepest love and condolences to his family and hope they can find some comfort in knowing he left the world a better place."

As Ripa's statement noted, Philbin was a "mentor" to both herself and Seacrest. The New Jersey native discussed Philbin's influence on her life many times before, telling People, "Regis and Kathie Lee were my life. When I came to New York and moved into my little dressing room at All My Children, they were my best friends."

In another interview with The Columbus Dispatch in 2011, Ripa gushed about Philbin's best talent. "I think he is the world's greatest storyteller," she said. "That's his gift."