Simon Cowell paid tribute to America’s Got Talent’s original host, Regis Philbin who died on Friday at the age of 88.
“What I learned about him was that he was an absolute total gentleman. Off-camera or on-camera, he always made you feel welcome,” Simon told People “He really looked after you as a guest on his show. He was so fun and such a professional,”
Before Simon became a judge in 2016, he created and executive produced AGT. In 2006, Regis hosted the first season of the show, starring alongside judges David Hasselhoff, Brandy and Piers Morgan. (In season 2, Brandy was replaced by Sharon Osbourne and Regis was replaced by Jerry Springer.)
“When we had the opportunity to work with him when we launched AGT, he was a big reason why we managed to get the show off the ground in the first place. The fact that he took a chance on something brand new, I said to him afterward, ‘I’ll always remember what you did for us,’ ” Simon recalled.
“For him to agree to do it — it involved a lot of traveling — he was an absolute delight to work him. Every time I met him, he was always happy, gracious, a real gentleman and a total pro,” said Simon.
“When I got the news [about Regis’ death], I was really, really sad because I have so many happy memories of working with him and have a lot to be grateful for,” Simon added.
The AGT Instagram account posted a tribute: “Regis was a television giant. The AGT family mourns our first host. Our condolences to his family and his friends.
Incredibly sad to hear about the death of the great Regis Philbin. Got to know him when he hosted Season 1 of ?@AGT? and he was one of the smartest, funniest, most entertaining & talented TV presenters to ever grace the small screen. Was so kind & generous to me. RIP. pic.twitter.com/zKpXdOZrmG
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) July 25, 2020
I loved Regis he came to my home to interview me many many years ago and to this day he called me “Big Hasselhoff” He was a great friend and GREAT FUN ?#RegisPhilbin pic.twitter.com/p2xrDwYm5p
— David Hasselhoff (@DavidHasselhoff) July 26, 2020
This morning, Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest paid tribute to the original host of the long-running morning show.
Kelly said: “You always know that some certain things are inevitable and passing away as one of those things,” said a somber Kelly. “But Regis is one of the people that we all believed I think would somehow figure out a way around the inevitable. It was not in the cards…he couldn’t find the way to live forever that we all, I think, assumed or thought that he could or should or somehow like God would give a special ticket for him.”
Ryan shared how he looked up to Regis grown up, and studied his ways to improve his own career. “For me as as a young broadcaster, I looked up to him. I studied him. I watched him. I watched how he would walk on the set. I watched how he would sit in the stool. How he would tell stories I watched how he would interview guests. I looked up to Larry King and Regis Philbin. They’re just so very few people who are so iconic and and so good at what they did and that is Regis Philbin.”
Ryan didn’t believe the news when he first heard it. “I got a text in the morning on this day on this day over the weekend and I actually, you know, I didn’t believe it.”
Ryan on Regis being a role model and blessing him taking the Live job: “Along the way in my career when certain opportunities were offered to me in Primetime, I would call Regis and I would ask him, what do you think and and how did make that work…he was on the phone in a second. So generous with his his guidance his advice. I almost got nervous when I was around him because to me he was just on another level and I remember one morning after we finished our show and we just started, he came downstairs to the radio studio and he gave me a hug. It was like a seal of approval. I was really emotional about it because when I started [on Live] I wanted to be there for you and I wanted him to approve the idea. I wanted to feel that from him. And I felt that when he came down.”
And last but not least, over the years many, many American Idol alums performed on Live after their stints on the show. A few posted their remembrances of Regis.
Kevin Covais – Season 5 finalist
Throughout my 2006 experience on American Idol filled with incredible moments, I don’t know if anything felt more surreal than being on Regis and Kelly and being interviewed by the man himself. He had me cracking up the entire time. R.I.P. Regis Philbin. What a legend. https://t.co/Azy0bAUlcT
— Kevin Covais (@kevincovais) July 25, 2020
James Durbin season 10 finalist
Thank you you for this unforgettable moment in my life. Rest In Peace & thank you for the memories. Always#ripregis #givemetalachance https://t.co/6WWX50AZll
— DURBIN (@DurbinRock) July 25, 2020
PIa Toscano Season 10 finalist
I had the great privilege of performing twice on Regis & Kelly & every time Regis made this shy girl feel so comfortable. I am so sad to hear of his passing & so incredibly grateful that I had the honor of being in… https://t.co/0q5yfXSnWK
— Pia Toscano (@PiaToscano) July 25, 2020
Casey Abrams Season 10 finalist
I had just got eliminated from American Idol 2011 and flew to NYC to do a press tour. I got to sing Nature boy on The Regis & Kelly show. To sing jazz to a real jazzer was an honor, especially taking with him and shaking his hand. RIP Regis Philbin. ???? @KellyRipa @AmericanIdol pic.twitter.com/XrhHNCs80z
— Casey Abrams (@CaseyBassy) July 25, 2020
.Matt Giraud – Season 8 finalist
Was a joy to meet him and play for him. Such a showman even after all those years that he even wore a special hat just for a laugh. World record for most time on TV at 16k hours. Was honored to share just 20 min of that. Rest In Peace, Mr. Philbin. Best in the biz. #regis pic.twitter.com/eOGIuiaAN9
— Matt Giraud ? (@ImMattGiraud) July 25, 2020
Katharine McPhee season 5 runner up
We lost another great one. Regis was such a kind man & truIy one of the best. In the beginning of my career I loved going on Live! – I always felt he was so supportive of new talent & he always made me feel at home there. Rest In Peace to a legend. You’re already missed so much.
— Kat McPhee (@katharinemcphee) July 25, 2020