Regis Philbin, the beloved television host whose broadcast reign spanned from morning talk shows to primetime game shows, has died at the age of 88.
“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,” Philbin’s family said in a statement to People.
“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.”
The ever-enthusiastic Philbin — first with Kathie Lee Gifford, then with Kelly Ripa — spent 23 years as the co-host on the syndicated Live With program, appearing on the daily show from 1988 to 2011. During that tenure, Philbin also served as host of the hit ABC game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
A larger-than-life personality, “Reeg” made countless television appearances outside his usual hosting gigs, often starring as himself in memorable guest spots on shows like The Simpsons, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Seinfeld, The Larry Sanders Show, 30 Rock and most recently Fresh Off the Boat.
Following a brief stint as the announcer on The Tonight Show, Philbin first became known to TV viewers as the sidekick on The Joey Bishop Show. After spending the Seventies and early Eighties popping up on assorted TV series, talk shows and game shows, Philbin became a fixture of ABC New York’s The Morning Show in 1983. Two years later, Gifford joined the program as his co-host and, in 1988, the show was rebranded as Live With Regis and Kathie Lee for syndicated television.
Gifford’s tenure with the morning show ended in 2000; after a year of rotating guest hosts on Live With Regis, the long-running program permanently brought in Kelly Ripa, who remained co-host of the show following Philbin’s own retirement in 2011. Philbin was also a late-night favorite, winning over David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel (who hosted a Millionaire revival) and more.
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
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) July 25, 2020
Regis is in the same category as Carson. Superlative. He was on our show a million times, always the best guest we ever had, charming, lovable and could take a punch. When he retired I lost interest in television. I love him.
— Letterman (@Letterman) July 25, 2020
In 2008, Philbin received the Emmy Awards’ Lifetime Achievement Award, capping a career filled with wins for Outstanding Talk Show Host, Outstanding Talk Show and Outstanding Game Show Host. According to Variety, Philbin holds the Guinness World Record for most hours on camera on U.S. television with more than 16,700 hours over the course of his career.
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We are beyond saddened to learn about the loss of Regis Philbin. He was the ultimate class act, bringing his laughter and joy into our homes everyday on Live for more than 23 years. We were beyond lucky to have him as a mentor in our careers and aspire everyday to fill his shoes on the show. We send our deepest love and condolences to his family and hope they can find some comfort in knowing he left the world a better place. – Kelly and Ryan