TV Icon Regis Philbin Dies at 88

The former host of ‘Live! With Regis and Kelly’ and ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’ has passed away from natural causes, one month shy of his 89th birthday.

AceShowbiz -U.S. TV legend Regis Philbin has died.

The longtime “Live! With Regis & Kathie Lee” and “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” host passed away on Friday (24Jul20), aged 88. His widow Joy and daughters Amy, J.J., and Joanna confirmed the sad news in a statement shared with People magazine, which reads, “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.”

Born in 1931, Philbin was raised in the Bronx, New York and studied sociology at the University of Notre Dame. After serving in the U.S. Navy, he began his career in showbusiness as a writer before becoming a front-of-the camera regular in the early 1960s.

He hosted a local talk show in San Diego, California and struck it big as funnyman Joey Bishop‘s sidekick on “The Joey Bishop Show” in 1967.

He had a string of local talk shows in Los Angeles and St. Louis before moving home to New York in 1983 to host “The Morning Show“, which was renamed “Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee” three years later.

He hosted the popular ABC show with Kathie Lee Gifford for 15 years before she quit. Philbin then spent another decade co-hosting the show with Kelly Ripa – as “Live! With Regis & Kelly” – before he stepped down in 2011 after a total of 23 years.

Regis also served as the original U.S. host of the game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” from 1999 to 2002 and fronted the first season of “America’s Got Talent“.

Along the way, he picked up Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Talk Show Host and Outstanding Game Show, as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008, while he was also honoured with a Hollywood Walk of Fame star in 2003. Philbin is one of only two U.S. TV veterans who has appeared on TV for over 10,000 hours. The other is late newsman Hugh Downs.

The beloved TV favourite played himself on the big and small screens, appearing on comedies “New Girl“, “Fresh Off the Boat“, “Single Parents“, “Mad About You“, “Seinfeld“, and “30 Rock“, “Damages“, and in the films “Night & the City“, “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask“, “Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous“, “Open Season“, “The Great Buck Howard“, “Jack & Jill“, “Little Nicky“, and “Dudley Do-Right“.

Over the last 30 years of his life, Philbin battled various health issues and underwent an angioplasty in 1993 and triple heart bypass surgery in 2007.

He also experienced personal tragedy in 2014 when his son Daniel, who was born with a spinal cord defect, passed away of natural causes, aged 49. Regis married twice – he divorced Kay Faylen in 1968 and celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary with his widow Joy in March (20).

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