Kelly Ripa Says She Was Blamed for Regis Philbin Leaving ‘Live’

  • Kelly Ripa spoke about former cohost Regis Philbin’s exit from “Live!” in her new book, “Live Wire.”
  • Ripa said that for years, she stayed silent about his departure while “false narratives” were spread.
  • “I just wish I hadn’t become the target, of the media or otherwise,” she wrote. 

Kelly Ripa is clearing up “false narratives” about former “Live!” cohost Regis Philbin’s departure from the talk show. 

“I feel that I owe it to myself to correct the record out there,” Ripa wrote in her new book titled “Live Wire: Long-Winded Short Stories,” released on Tuesday. “I now know that by taking the ‘high road,’ which is woman code for shutting the fuck up, I allowed false narratives to be attached to me.”

After Kathie Lee Gifford exited “Live!” in July 2000, Ripa was selected as the new cohost and the show was renamed “Live! With Regis and Kelly.”

Philbin announced his retirement during an episode of “Live! With Regis and Kelly” that aired in January 2011. 

“It was the biggest thrill of my life,” he said. “There is a time that everything must come to an end for certain people on camera, especially certain old people.”

Philbin’s final episode as the cohost of “Live!” aired on November 18, 2011.

In her collection of personal essays, Ripa said that she purposely “chose not to dignify fabricated stories and correct the record no matter how tempted I was.”

“But by my allowing false information to live on, unchecked, it became true as far as those in the media and the viewing public was/were concerned,” she wrote.

Ripa went on to say: “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 Ripa and Regis Philbin in October 2005.

Kelly Ripa and Regis Philbin in 2005.

Jemal Countess/WireImage



The “All My Children” star said that the job of a morning-show host is for the on-air personalities to act as though they’re best friends, but “rarely is that the case.”

Ripa said the narrative that Philbin was responsible for her success was fueled by comments like the ones that came from a 2015 interview with “Today” host Hoda Kotb on SiriusXM, in which he was asked how often he saw or spoke to Ripa. 

“I haven’t seen her, I don’t see her,” Philbin said, claiming that he didn’t even see Ripa while at the ABC building around the time of that interview.

In her book, Ripa said that was untrue and that they actually “saw each other in the elevator” that day.

While speaking about former cohosts Ripa, Gifford, and Mary Hart, Philbin said that he “made them what they are!”

Ripa said that interview “was pounced on by the press and elevated that false narrative.”

“Nobody blamed Regis when he left the show the way he did, because to be clear, he announced he was leaving on live TV,” she continued. “And nobody blamed him for not reaching out to me. Including me. But I don’t think that I should be blamed either.”

Ripa said she would have preferred advanced notice about Philbin’s departure, but “his exit wasn’t about me.”

“I just wish I hadn’t become the target, of the media or otherwise,” she wrote. “Especially since I was the one person kept out of the room, when that huge show-changing decision was being made.”

Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa on Philbin's farewell episode of "Live! With Regis and Kelly" in November 2011.

Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa on Philbin’s farewell episode of “Live! With Regis and Kelly.”

Charles Sykes/AP



Ripa said that another time while speaking to press at an event for The Hollywood Reporter’s annual power issue, she was asked if Philbin congratulated her on being featured in the publication or if she had spoken to him since he left “Live!”

Ripa said she “considered embellishing for a split second,” but chose to tell the truth: she and Philbin hadn’t been in contact.

“And yet, here again, I was dragged through the mud,” she said. 

Ripa said that Philbin was invited to appear on the morning show “many times” after he left, but he “always declined” — except for their annual Halloween show in 2015.

Then in an interview on “Larry King Now” in 2017, Philbin said that he and Ripa got “offended” when he departed “Live!” 

“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.”

Despite returning to the show for the aforementioned Halloween episode, Philbin told Larry King, “never once did they ask me to go back.”

Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa on the set of "Live With Regis and Kelly" in November 2011.

Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa during the taping of “Live! With Regis and Kelly” in October 2011.

Charles Sykes/AP



“I will never fully understand that interview,” Ripa reflected in her book. “Or why my name was dragged into these interviews in the first place. I was certainly never asked for a comment or clarification, or my perspective. Not that I would have given it — I just wanted the story to go away.”

Ripa said that Philbin’s retelling of the story “wasn’t true.” 

“And yet, the media seized,” she said. “I had gotten mad at Regis for retiring. I had dropped him. I was the bad guy.”

“It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t fair,” Ripa added. “Maybe me being in that chair in the first place wasn’t fair to Regis, and me staying and enduring the fallout certainly wasn’t fair to me.”

Despite her fallout with Philbin, Ripa expressed gratitude for her job on “Live!”

“The reality is I had a lot of fun over the years at my day job,” she said. “I got to sit next to one of the greatest storytellers of all time. The few occasions I socialized with Regis outside the office, over the decade we worked together, I truly enjoyed. He was an even better storyteller in person. I think he would have said the same.” 

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