The List: Who is Regis Philbin?

Long-time talk show host Regis Philbin, talks with co-host Kelly Ripa during a broadcast of "Live! with Regis and Kelly", in New York. (Associated Press)Long-time talk show host Regis Philbin, talks with co-host Kelly Ripa during a broadcast of “Live! with Regis and Kelly“, in New York. (Associated Press)

Regis Philbin will host his last “Live! With Regis and Kelly” on Nov. 18. The show began as “The Morning Show” in 1983 in New York and went nationwide as “Live With Regis and Kathie Lee” in 1988 with Kathie Lee Gifford co-hosting. The show became “Live! With Regis and Kelly” in 2001, when Kelly Ripa joined the team, and it is expected to continue with Miss Kelly and a new co-host in the future. This week the List looks at Mr. Philbin’s famous moments.

  • Birth  —  RegisFrancis Xavier Philbin was born Aug. 25, 1931, in the Van Nest section of the Bronx in New York City.
  • Notre Dame  —  In 1953, Mr. Philbin graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a sociology degree. (He wants his ashes scattered at Notre Dame.) He later served in the U.S. Navy as a supply officer, then went through a few behind-the-scenes jobs in television and radio before moving into the broadcasting arena.
  • A star is born  —  Mr Philbin’s career began in 1961 with a three-year stint in San Diego and the “The Regis Philbin Show.”
  • Quits on air  —  Viewers of “The Joey Bishop Show” in 1968 saw a tearful Mr. Philbin quit on camera. The ABC show was struggling against NBC’s “Tonight,” and Mr. Philbin thought he was to blame. “Bishop was a nice guy, and I didn’t want anybody to think he had fired me. So I simply quit on the air. It was emotional,” Mr. Philbin said. He later rejoined the show.
  • A trivia question  —  In the 1970s, Mr. Philbin bounced around a number of shows and seemed to disappear off the celebrity radar. At one point, he became the answer to a trivia question. A 1978 book called “The Great 1960s Quiz” asked, “Who was Regis Philbin?” The answer was “Joey Bishop’s sidekick on his late-night show.” His career was soon to be revived.
  • The Morning Show  —  In 1983,Mr. Philbin returned to New York, where he landed a local morning show along with co-host Cyndy Garvey called “The Morning Show.” He would never look back.
  • Enter Kathie Lee  —  In 1985, singer Kathie Lee Gifford, who grew up in Bowie, joined Mr. Philbin on “The Morning Show” as co-host and stayed until July 2000. When the show went national in 1988, the title was changed to “Live With Regis and Kathie Lee.” The show’s ratings soared, and Miss Gifford became a household name.
  • Farewell, Kathie Lee  —  When Miss Gifford left the show in 2000, she was replaced by soap star Kelly Ripa in 2001, when the “Live! With Regis and Kelly” show was born.
  • Who Wants to Be a Millionaire  —  On Aug. 16, 1999, Mr. Philbin became the first host of the U.S. version of the quiz show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” which aired on ABC. Mr. Philbin hosted the show until June 27, 2002.
  • Emmy Award  —  In May 2001, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences honored Mr. Philbin with a Daytime Emmy as outstanding talk-show host for his syndicated program, “Live With Regis,” and another Emmy Award as outstanding game-show host for “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”
  • Half Italian  —  On May 28, 2001, Mr. Philbin was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Sons of Italy Foundation. “I’m really only half Italian,” Mr. Philbin said. His father was of Irish heritage; his mother’s heritage was Arbereshe, from an Albanian community living in southern Italy.
  • Pop star  —  In 2005, The “Regis Philbin Christmas Album” reached No. 74 in the U.S. charts and 163 in the United Kingdom. On the album, Mr. Philbin sings a duet (”Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”) with Donald Trump. His favorite singer is Dean Martin.
  • Lost brother  —  On Feb. 1, 2007, Mr. Philbin spoke for the first time about his brother Frank Philbin, 55, a veteran pilot who died a few days earlier after a two-year battle with lymphoma. “I never talked about him because he was a very private guy,” Mr. Philbin said. “I’ve respected that all these years.”
  • Shrek  —  After spending nearly three hours in makeup, Mr. Philbin, dressed as Shrek, made a surprise appearance on the David Letterman show on April, 22, 2009, to promote “Regis and Kelly‘s” “On Broadway Week.” Mr. Letterman cut Mr. Philbin off with, “Who cares. […] you’re just here for the free coffee,” a few words into his plug. “Why bother,” Mr. Philbin said before walking off, and it was over in two minutes.
  • Guinness World Record  —  Mr. Philbin set a Guinness World Record for the most time spent in front of a TV camera on the Sept. 17, 2009, episode at 16,343 hours.
  • Scares Meryl Streep  —  We all make bloopers. Mr. Philbin gave actress Meryl Streep a fright on Nov. 16, 2009, when he told her that her daughter just “broke her leg. It never ends in your place.” What he should have said was: “Daughter Grace just got her big break.”
  • Leaving the show  —  On Jan. 18, 2011, Mr. Philbin surprised many people when he announced he planned to leave “Live With Regis and Kelly” at the end of the 2010-11 season.
  • Selling up  —  In July, Mr. Philbin put his Greenwich, Conn., house on the market for $3.8 million.
  • 80th birthday - On his 80th birthday this year in August, Mr. Philbin celebrated 60 years in show business. He was feted with a star-studded birthday celebration in Los Angeles, with notable guests John and Susan Hess, magician David Blaine, Jimmy Kimmel, director Nora Ephron, Dr. Phil, Mary Hart, Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer.
  • Final day  —  Nov. 18, 2011, will be his final day on the show after 24 seasons. “I’m not retiring,” Mr. Philbin said. “I’m moving on.”
  • Memoir  —  Before the end of the year, Mr Philbin is expected to come out with his memoir, reflecting on his television career, his co-hosts, Kelly Ripa and her predecessor, Kathie Lee Gifford, and such celebrities as Jack Nicholson, George Clooney and Jerry Seinfeld.

Compiled by John Haydon
Sources: examiner.com/tv, the New York Post, Huffington Post, Associated Press and The Washington Times

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