Veteran broadcaster Regis Philbin is retiring from his weekday talk show. Philbin said he would be stepping down from the show around the end of the summer, but he didn’t specify a departure date.
Irreplaceable Regis Philbin, who has been hosting talk shows and game shows since the 1950s, announced his departure from Live with Regis and Kelly on live television this morning. He is most widely known for Live with Regis and Kelly, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Million Dollar Password, and for hosting the first season of America’s Got Talent.
His first talk show was The Regis Philbin Show on KGTV in San Diego, California. For budgetary reasons, he had no writing staff, leading him to begin each show with what has become his hallmark, the “host chat” segment (influenced by Jack Paar), where he engages his audience (and later on, his co-host) in discussions about his life and the day’s events.
Philbin gained his first national exposure in 1967 as Joey Bishop’s sidekick on The Joey Bishop Show on television (1967–1969). In a Johnny Carson-Ed McMahon vein, Bishop would playfully tease Philbin and Philbin would take the barbs in stride. Philbin, however, got his feelings wounded when he learned from the network grapevine that ABC executives were dissatisfied with his work. When The Joey Bishop Show was canceled, Bishop walked off the show on the air unannounced, leaving Philbin to successfully carry the show on his own. He also appears on several T. D. Bank commercials.
From 1975–83, he co-hosted A.M. Los Angeles, a local morning talk show on KABC-TV, first with Sarah Purcell, then with Cyndy Garvey, former wife of Dodger’s star Steve Garvey. Philbin’s presence brought the show from the bottom of the local ratings to No. 1.
During the early 1970s, Philbin also commuted each weekend to St. Louis, where he filmed Regis Philbin’s Saturday Night in St. Louis on KMOX-TV (now KMOV).
In 1981, Philbin and Mary Hart co-hosted a national morning variety series for NBC. The show lasted 18 weeks. Garvey left Los Angeles and moved to New York City in 1983. Philbin rejoined Garvey on The Morning Show, another locally-produced morning talk show, this time on WABC-TV. At the time, the 9 am time slot for WABC-TV suffered from low Nielsen ratings. After Garvey left again, and Ann Abernathy briefly shared co-hosting duties, Philbin was paired with Kathie Lee Johnson (later Gifford), in June 1985, and ratings improved significantly. The show became nationally syndicated in September 1988 as Live with Regis and Kathie Lee and the success continued. The program would replace A.M. Los Angeles upon its cancellation in 1991.
In the 1980s, Philbin hosted Lifestyles with Regis Philbin on the Lifetime television network.
When Gifford departed in 2000, the show was temporarily named Live with Regis. Philbin would always have a guest co-host until an official replacement was found. Philbin won a Daytime Emmy Award in 2001 for “Outstanding Talk Show Host”. Kelly Ripa was chosen as the permanent co-host in 2001, and the show was renamed Live with Regis and Kelly. Their chemistry has proven successful, as the show continues to enjoy high ratings.
Philbin set a Guinness World Record for “Most Hours on Camera” on his August 20, 2004 Live show (replacing Hugh Downs), which gave him a total of 15,188 hours on television. On the September 14, 2006 episode of Live, his record was updated to 15,662 hours. His on-air time continues to accumulate.
In 2008, Philbin’s contract with ABC was renewed through to 2011. In 2009 it was announced on the September 17, 2009, episode of Live with Regis and Kelly during their World Record Breaker week, that Philbin’s Guinness Book World Record for most time spent in front of a TV camera had reached 16,343 hours. Under his 2008 contract, Philbin reportedly earns more than $21 million, but the terms and conditions significantly restrict his ability to negotiate deals with networks other than ABC.
On March 12, 2007, during an episode of Live with Regis and Kelly, Philbin announced that he would undergo triple bypass surgery later that week, as he had experienced chest pains and shortness of breath the previous two weeks and doctors found plaque in his arteries. He said, “Darn it, I don’t want to do it. Nobody wants to do it, I guess. But they tell me. And I had a second opinion, I did all those things (tests for heart disease), and so they’re (the doctors) are all in agreement that it should be the bypass. And so that’s what I’m going to do.” In addition, Philbin talked with David Letterman, for whom Philbin substituted for on the Late Show with David Letterman during Letterman’s own quintuple bypass surgery. Philbin’s heart surgery at Weill Cornell Medical Center on March 14 was successful and he returned to the show on April 26. He previously had an angioplasty in 1993.
On November 24, 2009, it was announced that Philbin intended to take some time off from Live with Regis and Kelly to undergo hip-replacement surgery. “I’m allowed to announce I’m going into hip surgery. I’m going to have my hip replaced. I’ve been limping around here. It’s really painful,” he said on Live, which was broadcasting from Las Vegas that week. The surgery was performed on December 1. Philbin was expected to take four to six weeks off to recover. It was announced that Regis would return on Monday, January 4, 2010 to his regular hosting duties to kick off the new year.
On May 14, 2010, it was announced that Philbin would undergo surgery to have a blood clot removed from his calf. He returned the next day.