After 28 years of morning coffee and chit-chat, Regis Philbin signed off from his final episode of Live! on Friday. (Watch his farewell below.) Philbin, who fulfilled his promise not to weep during the proceedings, holds the record for most hours ever logged on American television — 17,000. Co-host Kelly Ripa offered an emotional tribute, while her predecessor Kathie Lee Gifford, Philbin's final guest on Thursday, was in the audience alongside Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer, Donald Trump, and Tony Danza. An equally starry roster of celebrities stopped by to pay tribute to the Emmy-winning personality. Here, a look at four highlights from Philbin's send-off:
1. Kelly's quavery tribute
The typically perky co-host was "on the verge of tears," says Sarah Anne Hughes at The Washington Post, and that was infectious. "Your light is what shines around all of us and made us look so bright for so long," Ripa gushed. Ripa "cut to the heart" of what made Regis unique, says Michael Slezak at TV Line: He made viewers feel better about their lives. And, in imparting that, Ripa was "so genuinely emotional" that she was forced to read from notes, which she clutched in trembling hands, says Ken Tucker at Entertainment Weekly. That was easily the hour's "best non-Regis moment."
2. The montage of impressions
There were many clip reels on Friday's show, says Michael Slezak at TV Line, but the host of celebrities doing Philbin impressions undoubtedly made for the best montage. While Jimmy Fallon's take was "the most spot-on and the funniest," Ben Affleck and Amy Poehler also nailed Regis' mannerisms.
3. Philbin's off-hand comments
The carefully-produced farewell episode would have suffered without Philbin's trademark spontaneity, says Tucker. Thankfully, he took it upon himself to pepper the proceedings with some unscripted wisecracks. He dismissed an overly sappy montage set to Uncle Kracker's "Smile" with a playful, "A little long, but okay." When Disney mogul Bob Iger stopped by to award an honorary plaque, Philbin quipped, "Oh, he's still here?"
4. A questionable "Seasons of Love"
The cast of Rent stopped by to sing a customized version of the ubiquitous showstopper "Seasons of Love," changing the lyrics to "995,600 minutes" to reflect the time Philbin's spent on TV. It "felt like it lasted 995,600 minutes and had Regis' eyes wandering to the nearest exit sign," says Slezak. The most surprising part? No one seized the opportunity to point out that if Philbin had stuck around for just 74 more shows, "he would have cracked a million" minutes, says the New York Daily News.
Watch Regis say goodbye: