INDUCTION: Rick Rude on Regis & Kathie Lee – Featuring Ol’ Rear Regis!

25 Submitted by on Thu, 30 July 2020, 20:00

Syndicated TV Show, 1989

I was very saddened to hear this week of the passing of someone I’d classify as true show business legend: Regis Philbin.  I was never an avid watcher of any of his shows (my schedule didn’t really jive with the original airings), but any time I would catch him with Kathie Lee or Kelly Ripa, I always found myself laughing.  To this day, anytime Mrs. Deal is making something with cilantro, I drive her crazy by reciting his appearance on The Simpsons verbatim:

I dunno – the dude just seemed like a combination of a total ham and a gentleman, something akin to a more wholesome version of my all time favorite wrestling personality, Bobby Heenan.  

No wonder I liked the guy.

Another feather in his cap is that he appeared to love professional wrestling.  In the late 80’s, it seemed he had someone from the WWF on nearly every week.  Randy Savage, The Ultimate Warrior, Bret Hart and countless others would put in an appearance when he was on the air.  And then of course there was the time that “Ravishing” Rick Rude showed up and things went totally off the rails.

Which, of course, is why we are here today.

It started off like any other episode, with the hosts trowing to a video package showing who would be on the show that day.  Rude mugs for the camera as only he could, a total sleazy scumbag heel throwing a faux kiss to the viewers at home as Kathie Lee notes “he may show us what he keeps hidden under that robe.”  

Yeah, if you knew sister, you probably woulda hit the bricks.

This would be the afternoon before SummerSlam 89, so this was actually a GREAT cross-promotional bit.  Yes, WWF PPVs used to take place on Monday nights.  Don’t ask me why, I have zero idea.  

Regis gives an enthusiastic rundown of the card, explaining to everyone that their guest will be taking on the Ultimate Warrior with the Intercontinental championship up for grabs.  He then talks about how when Rude wrestles his matches, after he wins he scans the crowd and his manager The Brain asks if any lucky lady would like a rude awakening.  

At this point, Regis enthusiastically explains just what that is: he gives some rando in the crowd a big ol’ smoocharoo.  While Reege gets more and more excited at the absurdity of such an event, Kathie Lee looks on in with an expression I can only call abject terror.  

Rude comes out and politely shakes Regis’ hand, then gives Kathie the most non-Rick Rude kiss ever on the back of her hand.  He gazes longingly at her, not letting go of her hand until she utters: “um, hey, nice belt.”

Rude looks her up and down and creeps “Nice everything.”  

Undeterred, Regis glows “He’s looking you over!  You know how lucky you are that he kissed your hand??”

Kathie, clearly unimpressed: “Really.”

Regis just plows through the utter uncomfortableness, telling us “The Ultimate Warrior has a good physique, but Rick Rude has the best body in all of wrestling.  He’s got tons of sex appeal, Kathie!”

Kathie tries to play along, asking a very innocuous question of “how tall are you Rick?”

Rude goes total creep show at this point, explaining he’s six-foot-four…and wants to know how tall Kathie is.  Kathie, sounding like she wants to be anywhere else, explains that she’s short.  “I have stumps for legs!”

“Those don’t look like any stumps I’ve ever seen!” says Rude as he looks her over like a meat platter.

At this point, Regis goes into total troll mode, exclaiming “Hey, Frank (Gifford, her husband) is out of town, isn’t he!!!!”

Rude then explains that when he was young, his mother told him that love is something to be cherished and spread.  The Rude Awakening, he tells us, is how he spreads love throughout the world.  

We then go to an amazing clip of Bobby talking to some girl with gigantic hair who is about to get the Rude Awakening.  I say amazing in 2020 terms – in 1989, this happened weekly and I just kinda tuned these out.  But today?

Even BETTER, we get REGIS EXPLAINING WHAT IS HAPPENING TO KATHIE LEE.  “See, he brings her into the ring!” he notes.  “He looks her over!  He’s not just gonna kiss anybody!  Now look at him!  She’s melting!  She’s going unconscious!”

We then go back to the studio, and Rude now has thrown all pretense out the window, licking his chops as he eyeballs Kathie Lee.

LITERALLY LICKING HIS CHOPS!

Regis notes that Rick may give someone in the studio the Rude Awakening, noting, “It might even be you, Kathie!”

At this point, Kathie looks right at the camera and says, and I quote, “I promise it won’t be me.  I promise that to my sweetheart down in New Orleans (broadcasting Monday Night Football), it will not be me.”

Heenan comes out next, yelling at people backstage about how “Joanne”, who works behind the scenes on the show,  isn’t going to be the one chosen to get the Rude Awakening.  Regis asks if they’ve ever failed at giving a girl the kiss, and Heenan explains he has a staff and they pick out 30-45 different women who may be worthy of the kiss.  At this point, he also goes off on Gifford, asking “Hey, can we get a cold towel out here for Kathie Lee?”

Rude notes the event is sold out, but he can probably get her in as his “special guest.”  Kathie retorts the only way she can:

“But it’s Monday Night Football!”

Heenan says they have selected a woman from the audience.  “Not you pal, put your hand down!” The Brain chastises one of the only guys in the crowd.  

Even better is the woman at the bottom left! Who are you roll your eyes at the Ravishing One, lady?

So Rude devours this poor girl like he’s at the Golden Corral as Regis zooms in to survey the action.  There’s only one guy on the planet that could have pulled that off without looking like a total perv, and that’s Regis Philbin.

He’s also the only guy who could get away with this:

Holy smokes.

I’ve watched that thing for five minutes straight and I legit can’t stop laughing.  He may have thrown his hip out on that move.

Finally, it’s time for Rude to open his robe and show off his special surprise, telling us, and I quote, “This one is for the Giffer!!!”  He then unveils…

…Kathie Lee!  To say she is horrified is an understatement.  

But watch closely and you can see Regis absolutely going for the throat, pointing as if to say, “Hey Kathie Lee, you may have missed it, but that’s YOUR FACE ON HIS CROTCH!”

Kathie Lee literally runs for the hills (or the steps to the second story of their ‘home’ I guess), as Rude turns around and presents his backside.  Heenan is howling at this point, telling the world “Take a look at good ol’ Rear End Regis!”  Philbin of course plays along, kicking at Rude as he’s laughing all the way.

Not willing to look like he failed in a conquest of the lady folk variety, Rude decides he’s going to go up after Kathie, causing her to run down the stairs…

….and LEAP OVER THE COUCH TO ESCAPE.

Ha ha ha, all funny, right?  Great script you’re thinking.

Well…no.

Apparently, she had no idea what was going to happen!  From her book, she wrote about this skit in detail:

“Then there was the “animal” known as Ravishing Rick Rude. Now, I have a problem with Reege’s wrestling thing. We aren’t exactly McNeil-Lehrer out there, but I think the wrestlers’ shtick lowers the quality of the show a notch or two. Some of them are pretty sleazy. Rick Rude was about as low as the get, right down there with the Bushwhackers. If there was a gold championship belt for the most horrible disgusting-smelling people, the Bushwhackers would have been wearing it the day they came on. They tried to hold me and kiss me. First of all, I’m sorry, but don’t touch me, and second of all, I don’t kiss people I don’t want to kiss. And Cody (her then-infant son) was there with me that day. They chased me all over the set and I ran off, locked myself in my dressing room-nursery with Cody, and refused to come out. I was afraid they’d come right in there after me to bushwhack Cody.

“But the absolute low point was a year or so before when Ravishing Rick Rude came out, bragging about his “Rude Awakening” at wrestling arenas. Young women are hand-picked to go into the ring with him, where this muscle-bound baboon embraces and kisses them until they just pretend to faint dead away with ardor as he stands over his latest conquest. It’s a pathetic spectacle, so of course Gelman booked him.

“This guy comes out in his “Simply Ravishing” sequined robe, kisses my hand ever so gently,and sits there giving me the eye like he’d been behind bars for a decade. Nonstop. It’s not like we ask them tough questions – like, “Duhh, howdja get dose muscles?” We let them pretty much do their thing – which, cartoonish and entertaining as it is to some people, has its place in the world. But not this kind of stuff. I was so flustered I crossed my legs and one shoe dropped off my foot.

“Gracious host that I am, I humored him (“Rick, you’re sweet talking me”) while Reege sucked up to him by mooning over his title belt. “This guy,” he said, “is the best built of all the wrestlers. He’s got a tremendous physique and great sex appeal.”

With an ego to match. He asked me how tall I was and I told him “really short, I got stumps for legs.” He leered at me and said, “Those don’t look like no stubs I’ve ever seen before.”

“Reege egged him on. “Honest to God, I sense something going on here! Frank is out of town, isn’t he?” Yeah, I said. Rick’s manager is now on. “This guy is looking her over and making her very nervous,” Reege tells him. “The woman is coming unglued.” “Kathie Lee needs a Rude Awakening,” the manager says. “Kathie Lee,” I say, “has had a few rude awakenings.” “Not this rude, not this rude.” “Over the airways, ” Rick says, staring at my body, “I could see that Kathie Lee was the most beautiful woman on television. Now, as I draw closer and closer, I just can’t believe it.”

“Rick gave a woman in the audience an “awakening” to stripper music and then dropped his robe in front of me. I was standing off now to the side. I didn’t believe what I saw. This was absolutely unscripted.

“On his clingy nothing-left-to -the-imagination Lycra tights, he had painted my face over his crotch. He stood there, hands behind his head, thrusting and flexing, half naked. It was so gross I didn’t know what to do or where to go. I put my hands over my face and ran up the stairs at the rear of the set.

“Meanwhile, he turned his butt to the camera and, of course, there was Reege’s face painted on his, Rick’s, quivering, gyrating glutes. Talk about “back end participation!” This got my vote for the worst breach of taste in the history of the show. Then Rick ran up the stairs after me and I came down, skipped over the couches and dashed off the set, amazed that I didn’t wipe out and hurt myself.”

As if all that weren’t enough, apparently her husband Frank was allegedly livid at what happened, to the point he wanted to, and I am not making this up, FIGHT RICK RUDE.  I should point out that Frank Gifford was nearly SEVENTY YEARS OLD at this point.  I’ve not been in a ton of fights in my day so I don’t have a wealth of knowledge on the subject, but that seems like a pretty terrible idea.

Despite Kathie Lee’s objections, Regis would continue have more wrestlers on his shows, ranging from Diesel to Undertaker to everyone in between.  Want to see a very young Lita learning how to cook?  Regis was your man.

Thanks for all the memories, Reege – you will be missed!


Thanks for reading another WrestleCrap induction!  Hope we made you laugh.  Honestly, if you didn’t laugh at “Ravishing” Regis doing a hip swivel, we may not be the site for you.  If you like this, we urge you to support us on our Patreon or at our sister site, Coasty Marshmallow!

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25 Responses to "INDUCTION: Rick Rude on Regis & Kathie Lee – Featuring Ol’ Rear Regis!"
  1. Chris V says:

    Geez, and I thought that Richard Dawson making out and groping every female contestant on Family Feud was pretty disturbing.
    Dawson had nothing on Rick Rude.

  2. Andy PG says:

    Someone, anyone — put that last gif up on YouTube set to Yakety Sax. It needs to be done!

    Kind of sad Kathie Lee wasn’t “in on the joke” — really takes away from what seemed like an otherwise great segment.

    RIP Regis.

  3. Gerard says:

    Always loved regis cool awesome dude…but…kathie lee?? have never liked this diva!! she has always had this i am better then you attitude!! So watching rick rude making her squirm was the funniest thing ever!! i could write a 5 page letter about whatta cow Kathie is but will keep it short shes trash pretending to be a princess!!

  4. Sean Bateman says:

    That episode was simply ravishing

  5. Enhancement Talent 3 Mark II says:

    Great stuff RD, funniest induction in a while in my estimation!
    What was Regis wearing around his waist????

    • The Doctor of Style says:

      Looks like one of those girdles/back support bands. They can make people look thinner, so Regis probably wore it openly as a joke when he did his, um, Rick Rude dance.

  6. Yeesh says:

    It’s always funny seeing/hearing/reading how the outside world looks at wrestling. Rest his soul, but Regis didn’t consider Katie at all in that. Yeah, it’s fun if everyone is in on the joke, but if they’re not, it’s scary on her end. Imagine the scenario in a locked room and it gets creepier. She handled it as well as she could. Turns out not everyone like big, sweaty men. Go figure.

    • Guest says:

      “She handled it as well as she could. Turns out not everyone like big, sweaty men. Go figure.”

      Which is funny if you know the circumstances behind Kathie being replaced by Kelly Ripa.

      Turns out not everybody particularly the audience liked her either.

  7. Doc 902714 says:

    No more Disturbing than Kathie Lee and Hoda…well mostly Hoda on RAW during Susan G Komen month a few years back. Get to inducting.

  8. Christopher Haydu says:

    Great article, R.D. If WrestleCrap had been around in 1999 when Rude died, this would’ve been a perfect way to remember him, too. This was such a great segment. I never saw it, but the way you wrote about it really made it come alive. Good job.

    It was also great just to see Regis Philbin acknowledged. Anybody who’s reading this from New York may remember that, on the front pages of the New York Post and the New York Daily News, his death was mentioned at the bottom of the front pages, but Trump and Biden were the featured story on the Front page because there was only one hundred days left until the election. I thought it was ridiculous that neither of these two big New York City newspapers gave Regis the front page. SMH…. So, thanks again, R.D. for having some commonsense when the mainstream media fails to do so.

  9. Christopher Haydu says:

    Re: Yeesh

    Don’t you think that’s a little farfetched? I mean, she’s the host of a television talk show. She should understand that she’s not going to be educated on the background of every single guest and that sometimesshe’llhaveto do a littleresearch beforea segment. And what did she expect? That Rick Rude might try to rape her or something if she didn’t run away from him? That’s ridiculous . I don’t see anything that really warrants sympathy for her, or that warrants saying Regis was being inconsiderate toward her. I don’t know how much of a fan Regis was, but you could tell just from the screenshots in this article that he knew how to find humor in things. I think Kathie Lee was just stuck up.

    • Guest says:

      While that is probably true did you ever stop the think that realistically she just simply wasn’t comfortable with all the leering and everything that happened afterwards even if it was scripted.

  10. C Boz says:

    I was in college back in January 1989 and as a lark a bunch of us boys and girls went to a WWF event in town. It was the first time I was ever exposed to wrestling and I was hooked. Jake the Snake chasing Andre out of the ring with Damien. Ultimate Warrior being an anabolic clown. Mr Perfect vs Blue Blazer! Even enhancement talent Conquistador Numero Dos demanding the ring announcer introduce him as Conquistador Numero Uno.

    But the highlight for us is when one of the WWF staff walked up to one of the sorority girls (sorry, calling them girls here only because that is the term) and asked her if she would come to the ring when it was time for the Rude awakening. Now she was one of the most attractive women on campus so the selection was well done. We all had drunk some strong liquid refreshments before the show (scorpion bowls for those who care and are in the know) and I think they served beer in the arena, so she was properly ‘happy‘ to oblige.

    And then when it was time, up she went, got the kiss, and down she went. She was escorted backstage and then eventually did return to our section. And yes, apparently he did cop a little feel during the awakening, at least according to our fainting friend (whose identity I shall protect). Hard to know since as stated before, she was already on the way to falling down before Rick maybe pawed her. Either way, she was cool with it.

    I applaud and blame that moment, and “Davishing Dick Dude” as we called him, for getting me into this messy but fun world of wrestling and rasslin’.

    And yes, I also think Kathie Lee was rather stuck up. But old Rick certainly was being pervy.

  11. Fake Fake Razor Ramon says:

    Hate to be “that guy” but Frank Gifford was 58/59 years old when this aired. Still, I agree, it would’ve been a bad idea if The Giffer picked a fight with Rude.

  12. Mr. Boing says:

    Kathie Lee is lying through her teeth, she knows she wanted it or was at least curious..
    I saw where she loses her shoe in the youtube clip. A lot of women flirt this way. and
    who knows maybe Rick Rude was a foot fetish.. Saw those cute toes and.. rest was
    history.

  13. Al Boondy says:

    Regis interviewed everyone from Freddie Blassie in the 60s to John Cena in the 2000s … No one in “meainstream” Hollywood is ever gonna match that breadth of wrestling history again.

    Regis is a legend, period (remember when Stone Cold broke his nose?) …

  14. Joe Levinsky says:

    Regis got his start interviewing Freddie Blassie back when Regis was not well known
    and Blassie was the biggest name in California wrestling. I think Regis never forgot his
    roots and remained a loyal fan to the business all through his life. I legit cried when I saw
    Regis passed away.

  15. Canadian Paul says:

    Just goes to show that a) Rude was very good at his job, and 2) Kathy Lee has her head up her ass. Any TV host worth their salt would research their subject at least a little , so as not to look like a total fool, and a little research would have told her that Rude was as far away from the character he played as you can get. I get that there was no internet at this time, or it was very young…but c’mon….what TV show brings in a guest they know absolutely NOTHING about?

    • Guest says:

      You do know that even if she had known about wrestling at the time that likely wouldn’t have made her less comfortable with this right?

      Plus last I checked it was Regis’s show. Kathie was just his co host.

  16. registereduser says:

    How much sh|t do you think Gelman had to put up with from her during his time in the show?

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