Regis Philbin Dies: Longtime Television Talk Show And Game Host Was 88

Regis Philbin
Dennis Van Tine/Abaca/Sipa USA (Sipa via AP Images)
Regis Philbin, one of daytime television’s longest-running hosts, has died at age 88. His death came Friday of natural causes, according to his family.

“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,” according to a statement issued to People magazine by his family.

“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 family said.

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Philbin began his career as a TV host in San Diego, then became a writer and on-air sidekick on The Joey Bishop Show. He then served as the host of a para-psychology talk show, The Unknown, that was based in the Denver market and syndicated.

Regis Philbin Kathie Lee Gifford
Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford on “Live With Regis & Kathie Lee” Richard Drew/AP Photo

In 1988, Philbin was tapped to be the co-host of Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee alongside Kathie Lee Gifford. She left the show after 15 years, and Philbin was joined by Kelly Ripa in 2001.Philbin left the show after 23 years on-air, replaced by former football player Michael Strahan.

In addition to his talk show, Philbin also served as the original host of the popular game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? from 1999 to 2002. He also hosted the game shows Million Dollar Password, the first season of America’s Got Talent, and had a recurring co-host seat on Rachael Ray.

Throughout his tenure, Philbin’s stock in trade was projecting a personal warmth that probed but never pushed his guests or pandered to his studio audience.

Born on August 25, 1931, Philbin graduated from Cardinal Hayes High School in 1949 before attending the University of Notre Dame, where he earned a sociology degree in 1953. He later served in the Navy.

His career as a genial host included the shows A.M. Los Angeles and Regis Philbin’s Saturday Night in St. Louis. He moved to New York in 1983 to host The Morning Show, which was renamed three years later as Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee.

Philbin won Daytime Emmy Awards for outstanding talk show host, and received a Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2003 and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Daytime Emmy Awards in 2008.

Survivors include daughters J.J. Philbin and Joanna Philbin, whom he shared with his wife of 50 years. He was also father to daughter Amy Philbin, whom he shared with his first wife, Catherine Faylen.

Philbin and Faylen had another child, son Daniel Philbin, who died in 2014. No memorial plans have been announced.

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