Regis Philbin, Beloved TV Host Of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire,” Dies At 88 – Regis Philbin, the genial host who shared his life with television viewers over morning coffee for decades and who made television history in 1999 by introducing the runaway hit “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” died on Friday night. He was 88.
Regis Philbin, Beloved TV Host Of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire,” Dies At 88 | Cause Of Death:
Legendary broadcaster Regis Philbin died of natural causes Friday night, just over a month before his 89th birthday, according to a statement from his family provided by spokesman Lewis Kay.
“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 said 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,” they said. “We thank his fans and admirers for their incredible support over his 60-year career and ask for privacy as we mourn his loss.”
Regis Francis Xavier Philbin was born in Manhattan on Aug. 25, 1931, to Francis and Filomena Boscia Philbin. His father, a personnel director, settled the family in the Bronx. He was named after Regis High School, a Jesuit school in Manhattan attended by his father.
He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1953 with a degree in sociology before going on to serve in the US Navy.
Regis Philbin was long believed to be an only child, but he revealed in 2007 that a brother 20 years younger had died.
“I never talked about him because he was a very private guy,” Regis Philbin said in 2007 on “Live! With Regis and Kelly.” “I’ve respected that all these years.”
Iconic US TV host Regis Philbin Died:
In the early 1960s, Regis Philbin was a sportscaster and news anchor in San Diego, and in the 1964-65 season he hosted his first talk program, “The Regis Philbin Show,” on Saturday nights at KOGO-TV. It was syndicated nationally for 13 weeks and later aired on KTTV in Los Angeles.
From 1967 to 1969, he was the announcer and sidekick on “The Joey Bishop Show,” one of ABC’s many attempts to challenge the ratings dominance of Johnny Carson’s “The Tonight Show” on NBC. In the early ’70s he hosted “Regis Philbin’s Saturday Night in St. Louis” on KMOX, a CBS affiliate there. From 1975 to 1981 he co-hosted “A.M. Los Angeles,” a top-rated show on KABC, first with Sarah Purcell and then with Cyndy Garvey.
In 1983, Regis Philbin teamed with Cyndy Garvey in New York on WABC’s “The Morning Show.” Two years later, Kathie Lee Johnson — she became Gifford after a divorce and remarriage — replaced Cyndy Garvey as his co-host. In 1988, the show went into national syndication and became “Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee.”
From 1982 to 1987, he also hosted “Regis Philbin’s Lifestyles,” a magazine show on Lifetime that addressed health, diets, exercise and beauty.
The talk show host, actor and presenter started work in TV in the mid-50s, and became famous with the national talk show “Live! with Regis,” first with Kathie Lee Gifford, then Kelly Ripa. Viewers laughed at Philbin’s mock indignation over not getting the best seat at a restaurant the night before, or being henpecked by his partner.
Regis Philbin, as he was universally known, was a television personality for nearly six decades and an ABC superstar since 1988, when his New York talk show went national. But he also wrote five books, appeared in movies, made records as a singer, gave concerts and was a one-man industry of spinoffs, from shirts and ties to medical advice and computer games.
Regis Philbin co-wrote “Cooking With Regis and Kathie Lee” (1993) and “Entertaining With Regis and Kathie Lee” (1994) and wrote three memoirs: “I’m Only One Man!” (1995) and “Who Wants to Be Me?” (2000), both with Mr. Zehme, and “How I Got This Way” (2011).
Regis Philbin in 1999 became host of the original American version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”
Philbin, who lived in Manhattan near the ABC studios and in Greenwich, Conn., was showered with awards, including Daytime Emmys for “Live! With Regis” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” in 2001, for lifetime achievement in 2008 and for “Live! With Regis and Kelly” in 2011. In 2006, Philbin was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame and the Television Academy Hall of Fame.
Regis Philbin hosted “Millionaire” from 1999 to 2002, sometimes five nights a week, as its popularity rose, and, perhaps inevitably, faded.
Philbin also acted early on in his career, appearing on such shows as “The Big Valley,” “Get Smart” and “That Girl” in the 1960s and early 1970s. He returned to scripted comedies in later decades as a household name, playing himself on “Spin City,” “Family Guy,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “30 Rock” and “New Girl.” His most recent appearance was in April on “Single Parents,” an ABC comedy co-created and executive-produced by his daughter, J.J. Philbin.
In his last book, Regis Philbin recalled going on the “Late Show With David Letterman” after announcing his departure from daytime television.
Philbin holds the world record for most hours on US television, according to Guinness World Records, with more than 16,700 hours on air.
Regis Philbin had been married since March 1970 to Joy Philbin, with whom he had two children, Jennifer and Joanna. An earlier marriage to Kay Faylan lasted from 1957 to 1968. Philbin had two children with Faylan, Danny and Amy.
Tributes to Regis Philbin poured in on social media, including from President Donald Trump, who wrote on Twitter, “One of the greats in the history of television, Regis Philbin has passed on to even greater airwaves, at 88. He was a fantastic person, and my friend. He kept telling me to run for President. Holds the record for “most live television”, and he did it well. Regis, we love you….”
Regis Philbin is survived by his wife, Joy Philbin, and their daughters J.J. and Joanna Philbin, as well as his daughter Amy Philbin with his first wife, Catherine Faylen.