Naturally, when Rachael video chatted with Kathie Lee Gifford—who co-hosted "Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee" for 15 years, the two took time to recall just how special Regis was to everyone who met him.
"He lived off the love from people, Rachael, he really did," Kathie Lee says. "He'd walk in, even if it's a crowded restaurant or nobody there, he'd walk into anywhere we were and he'd go, 'Regis is here. Hello? Regis is here. Look who can't get enough of me,' he'd start yelling. And you're right, he'd go to every single person and they all wanted to just enjoy being with him. I think he died of a broken heart, actually, that he couldn't do that anymore."
"He lived for going out to lunch out in California with his friends that were still alive and having lunch with them, and then all of a sudden you're in lockdown and you can't even do that. So, he couldn't do the performing he lived for and then he couldn't even have the joy of a simple lunch with an old friend anymore."
"That was the essence of him, he would feed off of other people more so than food. That was his food," Rach agrees.
"And that's why people sense that that was authentic in him and they loved him, I mean they just loved him. I worked with him for 15 amazing years, but then it's been 20 years since I left that show, which is hard to believe, but we became much, much even deeper friends after I left as colleagues," Kathie Lee continues. "I don't know, we just shared so much life together, loss, heartbreak, deaths and births and children. I mean my kids, they've never known anything other than Uncle Reg and Aunt Joy. I don't know, I just adored him, and I will 'til the day I die, I just adored him."
Kathie Lee also opened up about the last visit she had with Regis. "We always made it a point of getting together. We always did. If I went to California, we had dinner. If they came to my house in Connecticut, we had lunch. And he'd always walk around my house, he goes, 'And yet another place to eat. And yet another place to eat.' He was just precious," Kathie Lee recalls.
"He comes in and we have a lovely lunch, and I look over at him and I go, 'You still have the best head of hair in the whole world.' He was just beaming, and Joy says, 'Tell her. Tell her, Regis.' He goes, 'What?' 'What you said this morning.' He goes, 'What'd I say?' She looks at me and she says, 'He said to me this morning, we're going to see Kath today, right?' And she goes, 'Yes, honey, we're going over to her house for lunch.' He goes, 'Good. But I don't like my hair, Joy. You're going to have to do my hair. Wash it and blow-dry it. I don't like my hair and I need to look good for Kath.' I was so touched by that."
"When he left, I felt like it was going to be the last time I'd see him. I had to come back to Tennessee to work, and my heart was full, but I was so grateful that I had the opportunity. We laughed for three hours, we just laughed," Kathie Lee says.
She goes on to explain how she got an unexplainable feeling she needed to go home, so she got on the first plane she could. "I don't know what it was, except it's God, anytime you get this feeling you need to do something," Kathie Lee says. "I wasn't going to be in Connecticut and I just felt like, 'Get on the first plane tomorrow. Get on the first plane out of here,' and I go, 'Okay.' I go home, I land to the news that Regis had passed away."
"So, I literally just live a few miles from them. I was right there, I went over and Joy and the girls were in the living room, going through old pictures and memorabilia of Regis. He never threw anything away, so there was tons of stuff, and they were laughing, then crying, then laughing, then crying. But Joy was able to tell me, she said, 'Kathie, that was the last time I heard Regis laugh was that day at your house with him.' It was just kind of the Lord to give me that sweet memory with him and Joy."
And while Kathie Lee and Rach could no doubt reminisce for hours about how Regis touched their lives, Kathie Lee wrapped up with this very fitting sentiment:
"I think, when he got to heaven, you know what he said when he got through the gate? 'Regis is here.'" 🧡