AP featured image
In this image from video released by Disney-ABC Domestic Television, co-hosts Regis Philbin, left, and Kelly Ripa are shown during the broadcast of “Live with Regis and Kelly,” Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011, in New York. Philbin announced Tuesday that he will be retiring from the show this year. Philbin has hosted the morning talk show for more than a quarter-century, most recently sharing hosting duties with Kelly Ripa. (AP Photo/Disney-ABC Domestic Television)

 

For nearly 30 years, there was no one Americans would rather start their day, drinking a morning coffee with, or laugh along with during late night tv talk shows, than Regis Philbin.

Philbin died at age 88 on Friday night, according to his family.

And like any celebrity worth knowing about, TMZ did the honors:

Most people know Regis Philbin from his morning show, “Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee,” — later, “Live with Regis and Kelly” — and the monster game show hit, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” But there was more to Philbin than what you saw on the screen.

Variety reported, that by the time Philbin stepped down from co-hosting “Live ” in 2011, the show “had aired over 6,000 episodes, hosted more than 20,000 guests, and been seen by 1.1 million in-studio audience members.”

Practically everything he was a part of showed he had the golden touch — or a massive amount of luck, as this remarkable paragraph from Variety reveals:

Most recently, he won a Daytime Emmy for outstanding talk show host in 2011, with co-host Ripa, for his final year on “Live With Regis and Kelly.” He won two Daytime Emmys in 2001, one for outstanding talk show host for “Live With Regis” and another for game show host for ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.’

On Saturday night, when news broke about the entertainer’s passing, Disney-ABC — Philbin’s home for most of his 50-year, tv career — aired this three-minute tribute, breaking in to live sports programming:

And Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger wrote:

“We are heartbroken to hear that a longtime colleague and friend, Regis Philbin, passed away at the age of 88. Regis graced us with warmth, humor, and self-deprecating wit, always bringing happiness to us all. Our hearts go out to Joy and to his family. Rest in Peace, Regis.”

Even after his retirement, his presence is no stranger to ABC studios in New York…

Nor are the remembrances from those who worked with him there, including former studio boss Michael Eisner…

…and others in NY who saw Philbin as a mentor:

Way back when, Philbin was the announcer on the network’s “Joey Bishop Show”; and you could already see the off-the-cuff, Jack Paar-esque style that people came to love:

Another person who loved that style was late-night talk show legend, David Letterman, who paid his respects in a moving statement, putting Philbin in “the same category” as Letterman’s mentor, the great Johnny Carson…

According to Variety, he said: “In the same category as Carson. Superlative. He was on our show a million times, always the best guest we ever had, charming, lovable and could take a punch. When he retired I lost interest in television. I love him.”

…along with others on Saturday, especially comedians or other talk show hosts:

Not so usual: getting a send-off by the President of the United States that includes the words, “He was a fantastic person, and my friend.”

Pres. Trump wrote:

“One of the greats in the history of television, Regis Philbin has passed on to even greater airwaves, at 88. He was a fantastic person, and my friend. He kept telling me to run for President. Holds the record for “most live television”, and he did it well. Regis, we love you. And to Joy, his wonderful wife who he loved so much, my warmest condolences!!!”

How about a tribute from the U.S. Navy?

But I can’t end this In Memoriam piece in good conscience without sharing a few items I think give the truest view of who Regis Philbin was: a friend.

Especially crucial are this poignant tweet and Instagram post from Kathie Lee Gifford, who entertained us alongside Regis for fifteen, wonderful years.

She wrote that she “simply adored him”:

There are no words to fully express the love I have for my precious friend, Regis. I simply adored him and every day with him was a gift. We spent 15 years together bantering and bickering and laughing ourselves silly—a tradition and a friendship we shared up to this very day. I smile knowing somewhere in Heaven, at this very moment, he’s making someone laugh. It brings me great comfort knowing that he had a personal relationship with his Lord that brought him great peace. I send all the love in my heart to Joy, to his children, to the rest of his family and to the innumerable people he touched over his legendary life. There has never been anyone like him. And there never will be.

View this post on Instagram

There are no words to fully express the love I have for my precious friend, Regis. I simply adored him and every day with him was a gift. We spent 15 years together bantering and bickering and laughing ourselves silly—a tradition and a friendship we shared up to this very day. I smile knowing somewhere in Heaven, at this very moment, he’s making someone laugh. It brings me great comfort knowing that he had a personal relationship with his Lord that brought him great peace. I send all the love in my heart to Joy, to his children, to the rest of his family and to the innumerable people he touched over his legendary life. There has never been anyone like him. And there never will be.

A post shared by Kathie Lee Gifford (@kathielgifford) on

Indeed.

I’ll close with this: Three years ago, on February 15, 2017, Philbin visited with longtime friend Larry King, on the latter’s online talk show, “Larry King Now.”

As you’ll see in the full video on ORA.tv’s YouTube, even 25 minutes wasn’t nearly enough for two “buddies”… who made their living just having a chat with someone.

Here are a couple clips:

Larry asks his friend some “rapid-fire” questions:

Rest in peace, Regis.

Becca Lower
Becca Lower is a writer with RedState and formerly worked at IJR.com as a writer and editor. She grew up outside Cincinnati, OH, in former Speaker John Boehner's district, and currently lives in Mesa, AZ.

Find her on Twitter at @BeccaJLower. Direct all tips/marriage proposals: [email protected]
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