This ‘RHOBH’ Star Almost Got Kelly Ripa’s Co-Hosting Gig with Regis Philbin

When Kathie Lee Gifford left Live with Regis and Kathie Lee in 2000, her seat next to Regis Philbin became the most coveted chair on TV. While Kelly Ripa ultimately became Gifford’s successor, this star from the Real Housewives franchise says she was one of the finalists for the co-hosting job.

Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa
Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa | Spencer Platt/Newsmakers

Regis Philbin dies at 88

Philbin’s death on July 24, 2020 rocked the broadcasting community. On the air since 1961, the television legend was renowned as an icon in the industry. In a statement, Philbin’s family shared the news of his passing.

“We are deeply saddened to share that our beloved Regis Philbin passed away last night of natural causes, one month shy of his 89th birthday,” the statement read, according to CNN. “His family and friends are forever grateful for the time we got to spend with him — for his warmth, his legendary sense of humor, and his singular ability to make every day into something worth talking about.”

His family asked for privacy to allow them time to mourn in peace. “We thank his fans and admirers for their incredible support over his 60-year career and ask for privacy as we mourn his loss,” the statement read.

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Kelly Ripa goes from soap star to co-host

In Philbin’s 2011 autobiography How I Got This Way, he detailed the process of finding a replacement for Gifford. Ripa was starring as Haley on the ABC soap opera All My Children when she auditioned for the co-hosting gig in 2000.

“It came from, frankly, such an unexpected source — I mean, a young soap opera actress?” Philbin wrote, according to the Washington Post. “Usually that kind of easy conversational spark is innate only in a special breed of broadcaster types.”

Though she didn’t have experience as a talk show co-host, Ripa won over Philbin and producer Michael Gelman as well as viewers and landed the coveted job.

“In the end, it could only be Kelly,” Philbin said. “She was the right choice and really the only choice.”

Philbin and Ripa became a successful co-hosting team until he left the show in 2011.

‘Real Housewives’ star was in the running for Gifford’s seat

When celebs were auditioning to take Gifford’s place in 2000, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Lisa Rinna threw her hat in the ring. According to PopCulture, Rinna claimed it was down to her and Ripa for the on-air gig.

“Regis actually told me it was between me and Kelly,” Rinna in a 2018 RHOBH episode, as reported by PopCulture. “He said, ‘Lisa… I gotta tell ya. You came close, you came really close, you gotta know that. You came close. We love you here. We love ya.'”

Despite being passed over in favor of Ripa, Rinna clearly had no hard feelings toward Philbin. The reality star took to Twitter with a moving tribute shortly after Philbin’s passing.

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“The end of an era. A great friend and mentor. I will never forget your generosity of spirit sweet Regis,” Rinna captioned the tweet alongside a pic of Philbin. “You changed my life and I will never forget the lessons you taught me. You showed me how to fly. May you Rest In Peace with the angels.”

Though Rinna didn’t achieve talk show co-host status, she clearly has her own claim to fame thanks to her niche on Bravo TV.