Regis Philbin dead at 88; TV icon was best known for hosting ‘Live’ and ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’

July 25, 2020

by Frances Dalton

Regis Philbin (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images for Amazon)

Longtime TV personality Regis Philbin died of natural causes in his New York home on July 24, 2020. He was 88.

Philbin’s family issued this statement to Variety: “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 New York City on August 25, 1931, Philbin was known for his affable manner with touches of sarcasm. He was most famous for co-hosting the syndicated talk show “Live” and for hosting ABC’s original U.S. incarnation of the game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”

After graduating from Notre Dame University and serving a brief stint in the U.S. Navy, Philbin started his TV career in the 1950s as a page forNBC’s “The Tonight Show.” He worked in local TV news for several years, and then hosted local TV talk shows in various cities, such as Los Angeles and St. Louis. In 1964 to 1965, he starred in the short-lived nationally syndicated “The Regis Philbin Show,” and he became a sidekick/announcer on “The Joey Bishop Show” in 1967.

“Live” began in 1983 as the 90-minute “The Morning Show” on the WABC-TV, the ABC affiliate in New York City, with Philbin co-hosting with Cyndy Garvey. In 1984, the show was renamed “Live” and pared down to a 60-minute format with co-host Ann Abernathy. In 1988, “Live” became a nationally syndicated show, with Katie Lee Gifford as co-host, and renamed “Live With Regis and Kathie Lee.”

Philbin co-hosted the show with Gifford co-hosted the show, until Gifford left in 2000. From 2000 to 2001, Philbin was the show’s only permanent host with a revolving set of guest co-hosts until Kelly Ripa became the permanent co-host in 2001, and the show was renamed “Live With Regis and Kelly.” Philbin left the show in 2011 to go into semi-retirement, and he was replaced by Michael Strahan. Strahan left “Live” in 2016 to join ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and was replaced by Ryan Seacrest in 2017.

From 1999 to 2003, he hosted ABC’s primetime game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” He hosted ABC game show “The Neighbors,” which lasted from 1975 to 1976. Philbin also made numerous guest TV appearances on other shows over the years, usually portraying himself (or a version of himself) in scripted shows.

Philbin holds the Guinness World Record for the most hours on camera (more than 16,700 hours) for any individual on U.S. television.

He is survived by his second wife, Joy Senese Philbin (who was often a guest host on “Live”), who was married to Regis since 1970; their two daughters Joanna and Jennifer; and his son Daniel and daughter Amy, from his first marriage to Catherine “Kay” Faylen, whom he was married to from 1955 to 1968.

Ryan Seacrest named permanent co-host of ‘Live’ with Kelly Ripa

May 1, 2017

Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest, co-hosts of "Live with Kelly and Ryan"
Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest, co-hosts of “Live with Kelly and Ryan.”(Photo by Pawel Kaminski/Disney/ABC Home Entertainment and TV Distribution)

Ryan Seacrest has joined “Live” to co-host the talk show with Kelly Ripa. He replaces Michael Strahan, who exited the show in 2016 to co-host ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

The following is a press release from Disney/ABC Home Entertainment and TV Distribution:

A new era in daytime television began today when Kelly Ripa introduced the permanent co-host joining her on the top-rated, Emmy-winning “Live” franchise: veteran broadcaster Ryan Seacrest is the new co-host of the newly-rechristened “Live with Kelly and Ryan.”

Beginning with today’s inaugural broadcast, Seacrest joins Daytime Emmy Award-winner Ripa as co-host and a fellow executive producer on daytime’s longest-running, #1 entertainment talk show.  A staple of modern American pop culture and media, and a household name from his decades on the radio, on television and as an Emmy-winning producer, Seacrest also has been a longtime friend of “Live,” with many guest appearances and multiple co-hosting stints.

“Ryan is a quintessential broadcaster and at the top of his game,” said Ripa. “I am thrilled to start my mornings with him every day, and we are so fortunate at ‘Live’ to have him join the family.” She added, “Ryan is a close friend and his star shines as brightly off camera as it does on. His tremendous success is only matched by his impeccable reputation. Plainly said, everyone loves him, and so will our daily viewers.”

“Not only is Kelly Ripa one of the most talented live hosts in broadcast TV; she’s also become a very dear friend to me over the years. It’s consistently been my privilege and pleasure to work alongside Kelly with all her incredible talents, charm and humor – whether hosting the Disney Christmas Day Parade special with her a decade ago or guest co-hosting alongside her on ‘Live,’ it’s always just been easy and fun to share a set with her, and we have a blast,” said Seacrest. “I’ve been so fortunate in my career to be a part of some incredible TV programs, and I’m excited to join daytime’s top entertainment talk show, and most important, I couldn’t think of anyone I’d rather share this new chapter with than Kelly Ripa – she’s a dream broadcast partner, and I can’t wait to start.”

He added: “I also want to genuinely thank Bob Iger, Ben Sherwood, Rebecca Campbell, Dave Davis, Janice Marinelli, and of course Michael Gelman, who all have been incredibly supportive in making this new chapter happen for me.”

Seacrest will make the move to New York immediately to begin his co-hosting duties, and will continue hosting and executive producing “On Air with Ryan Seacrest,” his market-topping #1 nationally syndicated LA morning drive-time radio show for iHeartMedia’s 102.7 KIIS-FM, as well as a nationally-syndicated Top 40 radio show. New York’s ABC7, home of “Live with Kelly and Ryan,” will house a brand-new iHeartRadio studio for Seacrest’s New York City location.

Seacrest will also continue as host and executive producer of two large live franchises, E!’s Live from the Red Carpet award shows, as well as ABC’s “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest.”

“With Ryan, ‘Live’ has a new co-host who is a master of live TV, as well as a terrific interviewer with tens of thousands of hours of live broadcasting experience,” said Michael Gelman, Executive Producer, “Live.”  “When you combine those attributes with the talents and experience of the incomparable Kelly Ripa, you have two skilled and entertaining broadcasters, with great chemistry. Add in an experienced production team and a successful 30-year franchise and you have the perfect combination.”

“One of the secrets to ‘Live’s’ decades of success in daytime is the relatability of our hosts and their ability to deeply connect with the audience.  Ryan has a charm and charisma that resonate with his devoted TV and radio audiences, and together, he and the remarkable Kelly Ripa will take ‘Live’ to a whole new level.  We’re delighted to introduce this extraordinary new team of Kelly and Ryan to our family of ‘Live’ station partners and millions of viewers,” said Janice Marinelli, President, Disney/ABC Home Entertainment and TV Distribution.

“For four decades, WABC has been the proud home of ‘Live.’ With this announcement, the show begins another amazing era, and we couldn’t be more excited to have a true broadcaster like Ryan Seacrest join the legendary Kelly Ripa as co-host.  Our viewers are in for a real treat,” said Rebecca Campbell, President, ABC Owned Stations & ABC Daytime.

“Live with Kelly and Ryan” is distributed in national syndication by Disney|ABC Home Entertainment and TV Distribution. The show is produced by WABC-TV in New York and executive produced by Michael Gelman, Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest. Visit “Live” on Facebook and Instagram (@LiveKellyandRyan), and Twitter and SnapChat (@LiveKellyRyan).

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