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American TV personality Regis Philbin dies at the age of 88

American TV star Regis Philbin, who has been on TV for decades and hosted the American version of the game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire? died at the age of 88.

Hilbin died of natural causes on Friday evening, just over a month before his 89th birthday, according to a statement from his family.

Celebrities routinely dropped by Philbin’s syndicated morning show of the same name, but the heart was in the first 15 minutes when he and co-hosts Kathie Lee Gifford or Kelly Ripa joked about the day’s events.

Viewers laughed at Philbin’s derisive outrage at not getting the best seat in a restaurant the night before, or being bullied by his partner.

“Even I am a bit hesitant,” he told The Associated Press in 2008 when asked how he puts on a show every day.

“You wake up in the morning and you say,” What did I do last night that I can talk about? What’s new in the newspaper? How do we fill in those 20 minutes? ‘

“I’m not going to say it always works out brilliantly, but somehow we connect more often than not,” he added.

He organized Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee from 1985-2000 and then Live! With Regis and Kelly from 2001 until his retirement in 2011.

After passing an entertainment career by parking cars at a TV station in Los Angeles, Philbin logged more than 15,000 hours on the air, earning him recognition in the Guinness Book of World Records for most hours broadcast by a TV channel. personality, a record previously held by Hugh Downs.

“You see the record shattered every day, buddy!” Philbin would tell viewers. “Another hour!”

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Philbin and Kelly Ripa appear in Regis’ farewell episode of “Live! With Regis and Kelly” in New York in 2011 (AP)

He hosted the prime-time game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire? which was the most popular American television show at the turn of the century.

ABC broadcast the family-friendly program no less than five times a week. It generated about a billion dollars in revenue in the first two years – ABC had said it was the more profitable show in TV history – and helped Philbin become a millionaire himself many times over.

Philbin was even a trendsetter in fashion; he put out a line of monochramactic shirts and ties to match what he wore on set.

“You wait a lifetime for something like that and sometimes it never happens,” Philbin said in 1999.

In 2008 he briefly returned to the quiz show with Million Dollar Password.

He also received the Emmy’s Lifetime Achievement Award during the daytime.

Regis Francis Xavier Philbin grew up in the Bronx in New York, the son of Italian-Irish parents and named after the Roman Catholic boys’ school his father attended.

He went to Notre Dame University and was such an enthusiastic alum that he once said he wanted to spread his ashes there.

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Regis originally hosted his breakfast show alongside Kathie Lee Gifford (AP)

After leaving the Navy in 1955, Philbin spoke to the stationmaster at KCOP-TV in Los Angeles.

He got a job in parking cars and then went on to work as a playwright, courier, journalist and producer of a sports broadcast. When his sportscaster didn’t show up one day, Philbin filled in.

Philbin got a lot more on-air experience in San Diego in the early 1960s, when KOGO-TV started producing The Regis Philbin Show for a national audience.

The program of music and celebrity interviews was recorded two weeks before each broadcast. It was canceled after four months.

In 1967, Philbin was hired as an announcer and sidekick for the comic Joey Bishop during his network show. Upon hearing that he would be fired for poor ratings, Philbin tearfully announced he was leaving on July 12, 1968, walking away during a live broadcast. He returned three days later after letters of support had arrived.

He and Bishop had bad blood. Bishop called Philbin an ‘ingrate’ because he ran away during a salary dispute and later harassed him.

Philbin’s second wife, Joy, was the bishop’s assistant.

After traveling to St Louis every week for a local Saturday night show for three years, Philbin became a star on local morning television – first in Los Angeles and then in New York. In 1985, he teamed up with Kathie Lee Johnson, a year before she married former football star Frank Gifford, and the show went national in 1988.

Philbin’s “sarcastic playfulness” endears him to fans, Good Housekeeping magazine wrote in 2000.

“He’s the little man who protests life’s injustices, from crime waves to paper clippings,” the magazine wrote. “The roar is interrupted by Kathie Lee’s familiar cry of ‘Oh, Reege’, sometimes expressed in sisterly sympathy and sometimes in teaching admonition.”

The gentle bickering and dazzling annoyance in Philbin and Gifford’s on-screen relationship woke up viewers’ imaginations.

Gifford left the show in 2000. After a trial period for replacement, soap star Ripa filled the slot.

Despite hosting the Regis Philbin’s Health Styles series, Lifbin had health problems in the 1980s. Doctors performed an angioplasty in 1993 to relieve a blocked vein. He underwent bypass surgery at the age of 75 in 2007.

He is survived by his wife Joy and their daughters JJ and Joanna Philbin, as well as his daughter Amy Philbin with his first wife, Catherine Faylen, according to People.