Biography of Regis Philbin: Kathie Lee to Millionaire

Born August 25th, 1931 in the Bronx, New York, Regis Philbin is now one of the most recognizable faces in television history. He started his career behind the scenes of both radio and television, but soon his talent shone through and he got his big break in the 1960s. Eventually, he became the sidekick on “The Joey Bishop Show,” and this opportunity led to a number of other hosting gigs through the ‘70s. His on-screen talent was apparent, and so he was brought in a number of times to save failing morning shows. One of these became the immensely popular, "Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee," and Philbin has since set the record for most hours spent in front of a camera. In this video, WatchMojo.com learns more about the life and career of Regis Philbin.
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Biography: Regis Philbin Life and Career


In 2004, he set the record for most hours spent in front of a TV camera. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be learning more about the life and career of Regis Philbin.

Early Years


Regis Francis Xavier Philbin was born August 25th, 1931 and was raised Irish Catholic in the Bronx, New York. In 1953, he graduated from Notre Dame University with a degree in sociology, and soon after he enrolled in the United States Navy.

First Radio and TV Jobs


Once his stint in the military ended, Philbin found work behind-the-scenes in radio and television. After doing some sports and news writing, he moved to on-camera work in the early 1960s.

Joey Bishop and A.M. Los Angeles


In 1967, he started as announcer and sidekick to the host on “The Joey Bishop Show.” This led to a number of hosting jobs for Philbin in the early 1970s. In 1975, he took on hosting duties of the failing morning show “A.M. Los Angeles.” Philbin’s conversational and excitable demeanor helped rejuvenate the series and it became a success. He also hosted a couple of game shows during this period, including the short-lived program “The Neighbors.”

New York Morning Show


By 1983, Philbin had returned to New York to ABC’s “The Morning Show.” This program was also on the brink of failure, and Philbin helped bring it back to life. After a number of co-hosts, Kathie Lee Gifford was brought on to pair up with Philbin in June 1985. This duo proved to be very successful, and in 1988 “LIVE! With Regis and Kathie Lee” was syndicated nationwide.

Regis and Kathie Lee


In its heyday, Regis and Kathie Lee enjoyed viewership of 18 million people each morning. One of the show’s trademarks was the conversational style that Philbin had perfected early on in his career. Unscripted banter and joking between the two hosts offered entertainment value, and Philbin was noted for his comical crankiness. Gifford’s and Philbin’s “old married couple”-type relationship put viewers at ease. Ironically, Philbin’s real-life wife, Joy, often sat in for Gifford when she was unable to appear.

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?


Philbin’s informal style translated to the page when he co-wrote two autobiographies: 1995’s “I’m Only One Man!” and 2000’s “Who Wants to Be Me?” In 1999 he became the celebrity face of the immediately successful game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?,” and that series spawned his famous catchphrase. He went on to win a Daytime Emmy Award for his work on that series, as well.

Regis and Kelly


In 2000, Kathie Lee Gifford left their morning show. Philbin appeared with a number of other co-hosts until soap opera star Kelly Ripa was finally chosen as her permanent replacement in 2001. That year, Philbin won himself another Daytime Emmy for his hosting of “Live!”.

Guinness World Record


As a self-confessed workaholic, Philbin broke the Guinness World Record for the most time in front of a camera with over 15 thousand hours in 2004. He added to that when he hosted “America’s Got Talent,” though he was forced to quit after the first season due to the grueling work schedule and commute.

Lifetime of Achievement


He then celebrated the twentieth anniversary of his syndicated morning show in the fall of 2007, and followed that up the next year with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Daytime Emmys. That lifetime of achievement has included a number of appearances on talk shows, guest-starring roles on sitcoms and even voice work in animated films.

Music Career


During his career, Philbin also released music as a crooner, first in the late ‘60s and more successfully in the mid-2000s.

Health and Retirement from Live!


Starting in the 1990s, Philbin’s health became a growing concern, and this prompted him to release an exercise video called “Regis Philbin: My Personal Workout.” He was eventually forced to take time off for a triple bypass, and later for hip replacement surgery. In 2011, Philbin turned 80, and that was the same year he finally retired from “LIVE! With Regis and Kelly.”

Legacy


After having spent the majority of his life in front of a camera, Regis Philbin has become a beloved pop culture icon and one of the most recognizable faces and voices in daytime television history.
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