Philbin, 75, returned to his syndicated daytime talk show Thursday. The audience cheered as he walked onto the set with co-host Kelly Ripa.
"Finally back after six weeks. ... Yes, it was six weeks - and one day," said Philbin, spry and energetic as ever.
But in a press conference, Philbin said he continues to feel post-surgery pain.
"My chest hurts," he told reporters. "People keep telling me, â€˜Hey, you look great.' I don't feel that great but I'm happy to be here."
Why is he back at work?
"Well, because it was time," he said. "It really was. And sometimes you delude yourself into thinking - you know, you get sort of a wave of hypochondria saying, â€˜Maybe I shouldn't go back, this hurts, that hurts.' Yeah, it hurts but it's not enough to keep me away from the show."
Philbin said he loved having more time with his wife, Joy, but felt pulled back to the "Live" studio - his "home for many, many years now."
"Frankly, I don't know what I would do without this morning show," he said. "It's a wonderful show. It's exactly what I devised for myself selfishly back in 1961. ... But now it's a part of my life."
David Letterman, host of CBS' "Late Show," was Philbin's first guest on Thursday's program. Philbin was a guest host when Letterman underwent heart bypass surgery in 2000 and recovered from an eye infection in 2003. While chatting with Ripa, Philbin mentioned he'd lost 8 pounds. "It is a tough procedure" but the rewards are great, he said of the heart surgery. "But in the meantime, that whole thing is a tough one."
WASHINGTON - Rosie O'Donnell announced her departure from "The View" nearly one year after Star Jones Reynolds was fired as co-host of the ABC show.
Reynolds was an original co-host, starting in 1997. She left the show on bad terms last June. Told her contract wasn't going to be renewed, she beat "The View" creator Barbara Walters to the punch in announcing her departure. That angered Walters, and Reynolds wasn't allowed on the air again.
In an interview the day before O'Donnell's announcement, Reynolds told AP Radio she hadn't watched "The View" since leaving the show.
"I haven't seen the show. Not once," Reynolds said. "It's a different part of my life and a different chapter. That's not the show that I did. The show that I was a participant on was a very different show."
O'Donnell said Wednesday she'll leave the show in June after less than a year of feuds, headlines and higher ratings for ABC. O'Donnell said she and ABC couldn't agree on a new contract - she wanted one more year, ABC wanted to lock her up for three.
A spokesperson for Reynolds had no comment on O'Donnell's announcement.
Reynolds, 45, will return to television when she hosts her own daily talk show on Court TV later this year. It's a return to her roots for Reynolds, a lawyer who began her TV career as a legal commentator on Court TV in 1991.
The 45-year-old Reynolds said being fired from "The View" made her focus "on the things that were important." "I said, â€˜Step back Star. Re-evaluate yourself. Re-evaluate your career. What do you really want to be your legacy and your contribution,'" she said. "I had to put it in perspective. And I just joined other Americans who have had a humbling firing experience," she said. "So you pick yourself up and you move on."