Regis Philbin, the legendary talk show host, actor, and presenter who started working on TV in the mid-50s dies aged 88. He became famous with the national talk show “Live! with Regis”, first with Kathie Lee Gifford, then Kelly Ripa.
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.
He also presented the US version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? which gave him and the show a wide fan base. ABC aired this family-friendly program as often as five times a week. It generated around $1 billion in revenue in its first two years — ABC had said it was the more profitable show in TV history — and helped make Philbin himself a millionaire many times over.
He announced in 2011 he was retiring from the weekday show after he had hosted it for more than 25 years.
A family statement to People magazine read: “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.”
President Donald Trump tweeted his condolences, calling Philbin “one of the greats”.
Talk show host Jimmy Kimmel tweeted: “Regis was a great broadcaster, a good friend and a tremendous amount of fun. He leaves behind a beautiful family and a TV legacy that will likely go unmatched.”
Regis Philbin was honored multiple times in his career, taking home three Daytime Emmy awards, and a Lifetime Achievement. He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 2006 and received a Hollywood Walk of Fame star in 2003.
As he announced his retirement from Live! with Regis and Kelly, he said: “There is a time that everything must come to an end for certain people on camera – especially certain old people.”
A Guinness World Records entry says: “The most hours on US television is 16,746.50 hours by presenter Regis Philbin (USA) whose career spans 52 years as of 15 September 2011.”
He’s survived by his wife, Joy, and their daughters J.J. and Joanna Philbin, as well as his daughter Amy Philbin with his first wife, Catherine Faylen.