Regis Philbin, one of the greatest television hosts of all time and father of four passes away earlier this week, at the age of 88-years-old. Let’s take a look back and remember a one-of-a-kind star…
Regis Philbin: A Legend
Actor, comedian, and television host Regis Philbin passed away on July 24th, 2020 from cardiovascular disease at a hospital in Greenwich, Connecticut. “We are deeply saddened to share that our beloved Regis Philbin passed away last night of natural causes, one month shy of his 89th birthday,” his family wrote in a statement. “His family and friends are forever grateful for the time we got to spend with him – for his warmth, his legendary sense of humor, and his singular ability to make every day into something worth talking about. We thank his fans and admirers for their incredible support over his 60-year career and ask for privacy as we mourn his loss.”
While many know Philbin for his time on the screen, many do not know that he enjoyed a varied and interesting life long before heading to Tinseltown. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1953 with a degree in sociology before serving in the Navy. Afterward, Philbin worked as a writer when a radio producer realized he might work as on-air talent…
An Incredible Career
Philbin started his career with a San Diego radio talk show called The Regis Philbin Show in 1961. From there, the rest is history! Just six years later, he had moved to TV, becoming nationally famous on The Joey Bishop Show in the late 60s. While he continued on sitcoms through the 70s, Philbin’s career took off once he joined The Morning Show in 1983. Three years later it turned into Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee, with famous actress Kathie Lee Gifford coming on as full-time co-host.
Eventually, as many will likely remember, Kelly Ripa eventually took over in 2001, but he and Gifford remained close until his death. Ten years later, in 2011, he left the show. Of course, other millennials will recall his time hosting game shows like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, Million Dollar Password, and more. These contributions earned him tones of awards including two Daytime Emmys and a Lifetime Achievement Emmy. He also earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, seen above, in 2003.
Remembering The Legend
Gifford, Philbin’s past co-host and a very close friend, was one of the various stars to remember the legend after his passing. She talked about meeting him for the last time with his wife Joy. “I saw Reg get out of the car with Joy and I sensed much more fragility in him than I’d seen in him since the last time in January out in Los Angeles. We sat right here on my screened porch and we laughed ourselves sick — we always just picked up right where we left off,” she said. “We had the best time, and after they left, I just thought to myself, ‘Lord, is that the last time I’m going to see my friend?’ Because he was failing, I could tell.”
Meanwhile, a special reairing of a Celebrity Jeopardy! on which Philbin appeared, already in the works, has taken on new meaning. “That choice has been made even more poignant with the passing of Regis Philbin this weekend,” said the team. Now, they hope the episode will show the viewers “gratitude to Regis for his friendship to the show for so many years. We proudly present it now in memoriam and with love.”