Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford’s chemistry was so dynamic that many people mistook them for a married couple in real life.
During ABC News’ “Regis Philbin: The Morning Maestro – A Special Edition of 20/20” Tuesday, Philbin’s wife, Joy, said she was commonly mistaken for his former “Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee” co-host.
“People often called me Kathie Lee because we resemble each other,” Philbin said during the prime-time special. “People would see him with a redhead and think it was, of course, Kathie Lee.”
But Philbin said the mix-ups never made her envious.
“Women have asked me if I had to deal with any jealousies, because he does spend a lot of time with very beautiful, very smart women,” said Philbin, who also guest-hosted “Live!” with her husband. “We have been married so long that those worries have sort of dissipated.”
The “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and “Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee” host died Friday of natural causes at 88, his family confirmed in a statement sent to USA TODAY by his representative, Lewis Kay.
Philbin’s ubiquitous presence on television is highlighted by more than 20 years on the morning show with Gifford (1985-2000) and then Kelly Ripa (2001-2011). On TV, Philbin and Gifford frequently mentioned their spouses, and their day-to-day activities became part of the banter on events of the day.
Gifford said the duo laid the framework for modern reality TV.
“In a weird way, if you hate reality television today, you sort of have to blame (Regis) and myself for that,” she said during the special. “We were the first ones that I know of that ever got paid to talk about our lives for a living.”
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Gifford’s daughter Cassidy paid tribute to Philbin with a sweet photo of the star embracing her father, NFL star Frank Gifford, who died in August 2015.
“The laughter I know you two are sharing together again in heaven is palpable,” she captioned the image on Instagram. “Love you forever, Reeg.”
Contributing: Morgan Hines, Bill Keveney