Regis Philbin is the king of morning talk, the excitable curmudgeon known for launching into an irreverent rant now and then. Kelly Ripa is the punchy, funny, tell-it-like-it-is girl next door who is never at a loss for words.
Together, they're the dynamic duo of daytime, and one of the most popular talk show couples ever to hit morning television.
"They are like a husband and wife who get together and argue over morning coffee and invite celebrity couples into their home … like Lucy and Ricky Ricardo," said Michael Gelman, the executive producer of "Live With Regis and Kelly."
The show first entered America's living rooms 20 years ago as "Live With Regis and Kathie Lee," starring Philbin and then-co-host Kathie Lee Gifford.
"Kathie loved to dress up and play different roles on the show," Gelman said. "She saw herself as an actress-comedian."
When Gifford retired in 2000, America anxiously awaited the announcement of Philbin's new television wife.
Ripa Comes Into Her Own
In February 2001, Kelly Ripa was named as Gifford's replacement. The former soap opera star was terrified loyal fans of the show would turn away in droves.
"I still worry about that," said Ripa. "I mean, because when a show has been on for 19 years, and when a show has always been good, you don't want to be the person that comes in and takes it off the air. I mean, I don't think anybody would plan, 'Well, it's my goal to come in and fail.'"
But she had no reason to worry. The transition was seamless, and Ripa soon won over viewers' hearts, thanks to an easy rapport and great chemistry between the hosts. Ratings skyrocketed, and in 2001, Philbin won a daytime Emmy award for outstanding talk show host.
The charismatic duo share some of the most authentic, unscripted, not to mention funny, moments on live television.
Earlier this year, however, Philbin and Ripa shared a sober moment when Philbin announced to viewers that he was scheduled to undergo triple bypass heart surgery.
The show went on with the help of guest hosts like Anderson Cooper, Howie Mandel and Martin Short until Philbin returned April 26 to celebrate 20 years on air and prove to America that humor really does heal all.
What They Say About Each Other
One Word Regis Uses to Describe Kelly: Ebullient
One Word Kelly Uses to Describe Regis: Extraordinary
What Drives Regis Nuts: When Kelly interrupts him
What Drives Kelly Nuts: When Regis cuts her off — "Once in a while Kelly will get off on a rant," Philbin said today on "Good Morning America." "The minutes will go by, the hours go by."
Regis Says Kelly's Best Quality: She's a great mother
Kelly Says Regis' Best Quality: He's a great storyteller