Regis Philbin, the legendary talk show host best known for co-anchoring Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee and the original version of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, has passed away on Friday.
He was 88 years old.
“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 loved ones told People Magazine, adding via 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.”
Philbin rose to small screen fame alongside Kathie Lee Gifford in 1988 when the friends started hosting Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee.
The two remained at the forefront of this daytime show for 15 years, at which time Kathie Lee decided to move on.
Regis, however, stuck around, partnering with Kelly Ripa until he finally decided to depart in 2011.
Philbin also made cameos in Miss Congeniality 2, Shrek the Third, Seinfeld, 30 Rock, How I Met Your Mother, and The Simpsons, among other shows and movies.
As cited above, Philbin was the original host of the American version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire in 1999, winning a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host in 2001.
He also emceed the first season of America’s Got Talent in 2006, flying between New York City and Los Angeles to shoot both programs.
Here’s a little known but incredible fact:
Regis Philbin appeared on the air for more hours of television (over 16,000!) than anyone else in human history.
He died a true legend of the business.
In 2008, Philbin earned the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Daytime Emmy Awards. He also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Throughout his career, Philbin suffered through a variety of health issues.
He underwent an angioplasty in 1993, followed by triple bypass surgery due to plaque in his arteries in March 2007.
In December of 2009, the television personality had his hip replaced.
In the wake of this sad news, tributes from across the entertainment world have been pouring in.
Tweeted Jimmy Kimmel:
“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.”
Upon leaving Live! in 2011, this is what Philbin said:
“I think I’m going out a pretty proud and happy guy.
“I wanted this show to be a show where people would feel better about themselves, would look at life in, maybe, a different way, a funnier way, and I think that’s what we accomplished and I’m very happy about that aspect.”
The television host was married twice and had four kids.
He is survived by his wife Joy, their two daughters, Joanna and J.J., his daughter from his first marriage, Amy, and grandchildren.
His son, Danny, died in 2014.
UPDATE: Gifford has shared a photo of herself and Regis on Instagram and penned the following caption:
“There are no words to fully express the love I have for my precious friend, Regis.
“I simply adored him and every day with him was a gift. We spent 15 years together bantering and bickering and laughing ourselves silly—a tradition and a friendship we shared up to this very day.”
“I smile knowing somewhere in Heaven, at this very moment, he’s making someone laugh.
“It brings me great comfort knowing that he had a personal relationship with his Lord that brought him great peace. I send all the love in my heart to Joy, to his children, to the rest of his family and to the innumerable people he touched over his legendary life.
“There has never been anyone like him. And there never will be.