Regis Philbin Dead: Iconic Television Host Dies at 88

Regis Philbin

Getty Regis Philbin.

Regis Philbin, the legendary American television host, has died at the age of 88.

People confirmed Philbin died on July 24, 2020, after his family shared the news in a statement reading, “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 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.”

According to TMZ, Philbin had been battling heart disease. The outlet said a source had reported Philbin “died … after suffering a heart attack at his home in New York — although, we have not confirmed that with the family at this point.”

The outlet said Philbin had been experiencing relatively good health in retirement but had struggled with heart disease for many years. Philbin had an angioplasty in the ’90s and triple bypass surgery in 2007, TMZ said.

Here’s what you need to know:


1. Philbin’s TV Career Spanned 60 Years

Describing the star as “indefatigable and downright neighborly” and “unfailingly perky and personable,” the Hollywood Reporter detailed Philbin’s “60-plus years in show business” from the 1970s to 2011, “sharing cups of coffee and flipping through the morning papers alongside the likes of Ruta Lee, Sarah Purcell, Cyndy Garvey, Mary Hart … and Kelly Ripa.”

He was arguably best known for his role alongside Kathie Lee Gifford in Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee.

He began that show in 1988 and left 15 years later, according to People.

From 2001-2011, Philbin appeared with Kelly Ripa on the next iteration of the show, Live! with Regis and Kelly, before he left after 23 years on air, People said.


2. Philbin Gained a New Generation of Followers Hosting ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?’

“Philbin also served as the original host of the widely popular game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? from 1999 to 2002,” People said.

“In addition, the New York City native’s hosting credits include Million Dollar Password, the first season of America’s Got Talent, as well as a reoccurring co-host seat on Rachael Ray.”

Philbin attracted an audience of 30 million viewers to the ABC show, The Hollywood Reporter said.


3. Philbin Was Born & Raised in the Bronx

Born on August 25, 1931, Philbin is a Bronx native and 1953 graduate of the University of Notre Dame with a degree in sociology, according to People.

Following a stint in the navy, he began his hosting career in 1961 with a San Diego talk show, The Regis Philbin Show, before becoming a household name as Joey Bishop’s sidekick on The Joey Bishop Show.


4. Philbin Got His Start Serving as a Page on ‘The Tonight Show’ in the 1950s

Philbin worked as a page in 1950s Hollywood on The Tonight Show, according to TMZ.

After The Joey Bishop Show, he replaced Steve Allen on Tonight but was beaten in the ratings game by late-night king Johnny Carson. Regis remained an enduring face and voice hosting radio shows, variety shows, game shows, lifestyle shows and talk shows.

Some of the shows he appeared on include Today, Entertainment Tonight, The View, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Late Show with David Letterman, Good Morning America, Wheel of Fortune, Late Night with Conan O’Brien and Jeopardy.


5. Tributes Are Flowing in for Philbin on Social Media

Twitter is already awash with celebrity tributes for the TV legend.

Jimmy Kimmel wrote, “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, I hope our friend Rickles met you at the pearly gates with open arms and a slew of the insults you loved so much.”

Actor William Shatner said, “Saddened to hear about the passing of Regis Philbin. Condolences to his wife Joy.”

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio also paid his respects on Twitter, writing, “Regis Philbin brought humor, warmth and wit into so many homes. Many people who never met him feel as though they’ve lost a personal friend and that’s a testament to his character. He will be missed.”

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