TV Legend Regis Philbin Dies at 88
Television legend Regis Philbin has passed away, his family announced Saturday.
People Magazine reports that Philbin died of natural causes. He was 88, and just a month shy of his 89th birthday.
The cause of Philbin's passing hasn't been officially released, but a source reportedly told TMZ that he suffered a heart attack and died Saturday morning.
Regis was born in the Bronx, New York in 1931. He served in the Navy and graduated from Notre Dame in 1953 before beginning a career in radio and TV. He had a brief stint as an announcer for the Tonight Show in 1955, and had a short run as a late night host replacing Steve Allen. He appeared on a number of classic scripted and variety shows as well. Just check out his IMDB.
Most people my age remember him for two things: Live with Regis and Kathy Lee, which later became Live with Regis and Kelly, and more importantly (in my opinion), Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.
Regis seemed to be everywhere when I was growing up in the 90s and early 2000's. He was on David Letterman's show almost constantly and was always a fun and energetic guest. Letterman loved to pick on him, but Regis could fire right back. It was a delight to watch. He made so many cameos in TV shows and movies. He was like Stan Lee before he had a cameo in every Marvel movie. You just saw him all the time.
For a short time, I was actually kind of angry at Regis. I mean, legitimately PO'd at the guy. Why? Because he was hosting a celebrity Millionaire one night and one of my all-time favorite comedians, Norm Macdonald, was so close to winning it all. Norm had a shot at the million, but Regis kinda talked him out of going with his answer and Norm settled for the half a mil. Turned out Norm was right!
Looking back on it now, it was petty of me to be so upset, but I was a huge Norm fanboy and I remember my mom and I watching that night and yelling at the TV. Regis took a lot of flack for that night, but now I realize he was just doing his job as a host. It was his job to kinda throw contestants off their game a little, and he didn't back down from it. I have to admire that.
Regis would go on to set the Guinness World Record for Most Hours on U.S. Television, which he still held at the time of his death. So many of us grew up with this ubiquitous guy that he was almost like a beloved TV uncle. It breaks my heart that he's gone, but man...what a life!
We'll miss you, Regis. We really will.