Talk and game show host Regis Philbin died July 14, as a result of natural causes in New York City just a few week sky of his 89th birthday.
Appearing in hundreds of productions, Philbin was best known for his roles as the host on the night time television game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and as the co-host on the morning television talk show “Live with Kathie Lee” and later with Kelly Ripa.
It was Regis Philbin who surpassed Hugh Downs to hold the Guinness Book of World Records for logging the most hours on television with over 15,000.
The Daytime Emmy Awards presented Philbin with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008 and has a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show Host. He is a member of the National Association of Broadcasters and the Television Halls of Fame.
He was born Regis Francis Xavier Philbin on August, 25, 1931 in New York City. The son of Italian-Irish Roman Catholic parents, he was named after the high school where his father had gone. An alumnus of Notre Dame University, Philbin had one said that he wanted his ashes scattered on the university grounds.
The joke in and around Hollywood is that everyone is a star waiting for their break. But for Philbin, that is exactly what happened; after a stint in the United States Navy where he worked in broadcasting, Philbin got a job parking cars at KCOP-TV and began working his way up the ladder to stagehand, courier, news writer, producer, and on to on air talent and star.
He has worked for television stations in Los Angeles, San Diego, St. Louis, and New York City.
While best known as a talk show and game host, Philbin is listed as an actor in nearly 90 productions including his 1968 debut on “Cowboy in Africa”, “The Big Valley”, “Get Smart”, “Love, American Style”, “The Bad News Bears Go to Japan”, “CHiPs”, “Fantasy Island”, the daytime drama “Ryan’s Hope”, “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues”, “Seinfeld”, “Diagnosis Murder”, “The Simpsons”, “Spin City”, “Family Guy”, “How I Met Your Mother”, “30 Rock”, and “Hot in Cleveland”.
Along with his appearances on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and “Live with Kathie Lee” and “Live with Regis and Kelly”; Philbin has appeared in over 200 productions as himself including talks shows, “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In”, variety shows, game shows, parades, “Hee Haw”, award shows, and late night talk shows.
What may come as a surprise to some is that, Philbin also had a singing career with a record contract. It began with a performance of Pennies from Heaven” on an episode of Joey Bishop’s show.
Philbin is survived by his second wife of 50 years Joy and children J.J., Joanna, Amy, and Catherine.
feature photo credit: By Paparazzo Presents, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6507298