NEW YORK (CelebrityAccess) — Regis Philbin, a veteran talk and game show host, singer and media personality, died in Manhattan on Saturday. He was 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 provided to several media outlets. “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 statement continued.
Philbin, who was born in New York City, attended Notre Dame and graduated in 1953 with a degree in sociology before doing a stint in the U.S. Navy.
In 1955, he got his first taste of the television industry as a page on the Tonight Show, and later as a writer for Los Angeles-based talk show host Tom Duggan before he landed his own talk show “The Regis Philbin Show” in 1963.
The following year, the show was picked up for national syndication by Westinghouse Broadcasting but the show failed to gain traction with a wider audience and he was eventually replaced Merv Griffin.
Philbin’s first network television exposure came in 1967 as Joey Bishop’s sidekick on The Joey Bishop Show and famously quit in air in 1968 as part of a staged stunt in a bid to draw some of rival Johnny Carson’s viewership.
In addition to the talk and late-night format, Philbin also hosted televised game shows, including The Neighbors, Almost Anything Goes, and Knockout, none of which were successful. However, in 1999, he hosted the quiz show Who Wants To Be a Millionaire which proved to be a success and led to multiple iterations, including Who Wants to Be a Super Millionaire.
Philbin was best known as the host of the New York City-based nationally syndicated talk show Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee starting in 1988, which became Live! with Regis and Kelly starting in 2001. Philbin remained with the show until 2011 when he announced his departure from the broadcast.
Following his departure from Live, Philbin regularly served as a guest host and briefly hosted the sports talk show Crowd Goes Wild on Fox Sports.
Philbin was married twice, first to Catherine Faylen and to Joy Senese.