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Regis Philbin (1931–2020), hosted talk shows and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”

by Linnea Crowther

Regis Philbin was host of the long-running talk shows “Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee” and “Live! With Regis and Kelly,” as well as the first host of the U.S. version of the popular game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”

Early years in TV

His long career in media began in the 1950s, when he was a page for “The Tonight Show,” graduating in 1962 to become the show’s announcer. Later, he was Joey Bishop’s sidekick on “The Joey Bishop Show,” then hosted his own late night and morning shows before the 1985 launch of “Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee.”

“Live! With Regis…”

The chatty morning show gave Philbin a chance to do what he did best, entertain audiences spontaneously, and with its 1988 syndication, he became a household name. After the departure of cohost Kathie Lee Gifford, Philbin continued on with new cohost Kelly Ripa as well as launching “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”


…and even more TV

He later hosted other shows, including the first season of “America’s Got Talent,” “Million Dollar Password,” and the 2010 Daytime Emmy Awards. Philbin also appeared in scripted television shows and movies, often playing himself, and he had a singing career.

Philbin on his own likability:

“I guess it’s good genes. My parents brought me up well, to have pleasure when making people happy,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 2000 before quickly adding, “Oh, no! I can see the headlines now! Regis Thinks He’s a Nice Guy! Who Does He Think He Is?!”

What people said about him

“I think he is the world’s greatest storyteller. That’s his gift.” —former cohost Kelly Ripa

Full obituary: Los Angeles Times

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