updated 11/18/2011 AT 9:15 AM ET
•originally published 11/19/2011 AT 9:30 AM ET
“Some people ask, ‘Why has the show stayed on so long?’ ” Regis Philbin said on his final broadcast of Live! with Regis and Kelly Friday. “People tell me why they watch it … because it makes them feel better. And it can’t get any better than that. It makes them happy. ”
After 28 years on Live!, Regis Philbin signed off for the final time Friday in front of a studio audience filled with family, friends and celebrities, as well as a nationwide TV viewership.
“Every morning, I’ll think about this,” he told co-host Kelly Ripa as they walked down the hallway to the studio for their final show together. “Thank you for everything,” said a teary Ripa as they embraced before the show. “I love you.”
It’s a sentiment shared by many viewers – and a relationship that Philbin, 80, took seriously. “I wanted this to be a show where people would feel better about themselves, would look at life in maybe a different way, a funnier way,” said Philbin on Friday’s episode. “I think that’s what we’ve accomplished … I’m going out a pretty proud and happy guy.”
But first, he had a tribute-packed final broadcast to get through, in which stars shared their memories of working with him and video montages abounded. “Too long, but okay,” he quipped good-naturedly of one of them.
Donald Trump, Kathie Lee Gifford and Tony Danza were in the audience, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg popped in to present him with a key to the city.
Then things got really emotional.