Kathie Lee Gifford has paid tribute to her former Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee co-host Regis Philbin following his death on Friday.

The U.S. TV favourite passed away aged 88, his widow Joy and daughters Amy, J.J. and Joanna confirmed in a statement shared with People magazine.

Taking to her Instagram page, Kathie, who hosted the popular ABC show with him for 15 years before she quit, admitted she has “no words” following the death of her “precious friend.”

“I simply adored him and every day with him was a gift,” she penned. “We spent 15 years together bantering and bickering and laughing ourselves silly-a tradition and a friendship we shared up to this very day. I smile knowing somewhere in Heaven, at this very moment, he’s making someone laugh.”

Kathie Lee continued: “It brings me great comfort knowing that he had a personal relationship with his Lord that brought him great peace. I send all the love in my heart to Joy, to his children, to the rest of his family and to the innumerable people he touched over his legendary life. There has never been anyone like him. And there never will be.”

Regis and Kathie Lee first premiered their morning talk show back in 1988. The star left the show in 2000 and was replaced with Kelly Ripa, who hosted alongside Regis until his departure in 2011.

Kathie Lee went on to join NBC’s morning show Today. She retired in April 2019, and Regis appeared on her last day to help send her off.

Current Live! hosts Kelly and Ryan Seacrest also paid their respects to Regis, writing in a statement: “We are beyond saddened to learn about the loss of Regis Philbin. He was the ultimate class act, bringing his laughter and joy into our homes every day on Live for more than 23 years.

“We were beyond lucky to have him as a mentor in our careers and aspire every day to fill his shoes on the show. We send our deepest love and condolences to his family and hope they can find some comfort in knowing he left the world a better place.”

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