"Regis used to say that he and I had a great father/son relationship, but that I was the father. I couldn't agree more," Gelman, 58, begins his tribute in Entertainment Weeklyto Philbin, who hosted Live for 23 years. "Even in my early 20s when I first started working with him, he was the mischievous pot-stirrer and I was the one trying to keep him out of trouble."
Gelman continues by noting that the "genuinely warm/grumpy uncle" audiences saw on television was the same person who he knew off-camera, before praising Philbin's storytelling ability.
"There were nights on the town with him when literally nothing out of the ordinary happened, and yet the next morning he would weave a tale that was so hilarious I often wondered how we could have been at the same event," Gelman writes.
The TV producer goes on to talk about Philbin's signature "Host Chat" segment on Live, when he would break the fourth wall to acknowledge off-camera staff, including Gelman.
"If you were lucky enough to be mentioned during 'Host Chat,' you immediately got your 15 minutes of fame," he writes. "Not much was more exciting than hearing the words 'Regis talked about you this morning.' Often imitated but never duplicated, 'Host Chat' has become part of the lexicon of American entertainment."
Gelman continues by writing about Philbin's love for his family, noting that his wife, Joy Philbin, was his favorite guest co-host.
"He adored her. Their spicy husband-and-wife banter could be considered the first reality show on television," Gelman writes. "Talking about their children and then grandchildren gave the audience yet another peek into his life behind the cameras."
The sweet tribute concludes with Gelman writing that "they broke the mold" when they made Philbin.
"He was the son I never had and a bonus father all in one," he concludes. "I will miss him as a friend and I can only hope he and Dean Martin are together now singing 'Pennies From Heaven' while Don Rickles heckles from the bleachers."
On Friday, Live paid tribute to Philbin by airing his final episode as host of the show.
"Today's show is a very special one to all of use here at Live and our Live family, our viewers, and pretty much anyone who loved spending their mornings with Regis Philbin as much as we did," Live co-host Kelly Ripa said in a pre-recorded message at the start of the episode.
"On November 18th, 2011, Regis said goodbye to Live. He understood the magically, the recipe of making a morning show work. The laughter, him being the butt of a joke, combined with his curiosity, his quick wit, his storytelling, he was just the best at storytelling," Live co-host Ryan Seacrest added. "And no matter if you were a celebrity or you were someone that worked in the parking garage, he treated everybody equally and with so much respect. I can't believe it's been nine years."