It’s Live! Morning show host Kelly Ripa became the queen of talk shows when longtime cohost Regis Philbin retired in 2011, but as she describes in her new book, Live Wire: Long-Winded Short Stories, their relationship was more complicated than it appeared on television.
“The biggest misconception about my place on the show was that Regis had hand-selected me, guided me and was my best friend – and then left, after which I never spoke to him again,” Kelly, 51, wrote in her book of essays released on Tuesday, September 27. “I think that is a basic misconception about on-air personalities in general. The audience assumes that they are watching two best friends. I get it. I used to think that Regis and Kathie Lee [Gifford] were married. That’s the assignment of a morning show host. Rarely is that the case. Working on morning television is like any job. Except that America gets to do your performance review every single day.”
Ripa began cohosting Live! With Regis and Kelly in February 2001 less than one year after Philbin’s former cohost Kathie Lee Gifford’s exit in July 2000. Philbin began holding on-air tryouts in his search for a new cohost when the then-soap opera actress first auditioned in November 2000.
“There was one guest we’d had on with us a few years before who had [a certain sparkle],” Philbin wrote in his 2011 autobiography, How I Got This Way, about how he knew Ripa was right for the role. “Hers was a natural, quick-witted, unaffected, confident, fun-loving kind of sparkle that both [Michael] Gelman and I remembered very well. We decided to invite her back, this time to consider her as a possible co-host. So that was when this smiling, petite ball of fire named Kelly Ripa made her return to Live! for a test run at the rotating, up-for-grabs hot seat to my left. And my God, who knew what spontaneous combustion we’d make together?”
However, their relationship wasn’t that of “two best friends” like they made viewers believe. In fact, the former Hope & Faith star recalled being “the one person kept out of the room” when Philbin announced his retirement.
“Nobody blamed Regis when he left the show the way he did,” she recalled. “To be clear, he announced he was leaving on live TV. And nobody blamed him for not reaching out to me. Including me. Would I have preferred a heads-up? Of course, but his exit wasn’t about me.”
While she went on to say that the original Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? host spoke to her during a commercial break about needing to “get something off his chest,” Kelly admitted that “it wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t fair.”
“He had his reasons for leaving the show,” she wrote. “Nobody gets that more than I do. I just wish I hadn’t become the target, of the media or otherwise.”
Keep scrolling for five more revelations from Kelly Ripa’s new book.
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