'Happy Days' Star Henry Winkler Remembers Regis Philbin and His First TV Interview After Host's Death

Iconic TV host and actor Regis Philbin died on Friday due to natural causes at the age of 88. When his family confirmed the news with a statement, fans and peers alike posted tributes on social media, including Happy Days star Henry Winkler. The man who portrayed the Fonz posted a heartfelt message on Twitter.

"Regis was one of the very FIRST interviews I did to promote HAPPY DAYS in 1975 ... Regis was one of a kind .. Sleep well," Winkler tweeted on Saturday in response to the news. At this point in Philbin's career, he was hosting A.M. Los Angeles, a morning talk show on KABC-TV. Happy Days first aired in 1974 and later became one of the biggest shows in the country.

The series, set in Milwaukee, focused on teenage Richie Cunningham and his family. Winkler played Arthur "The Fonz" Fonzarelli, a local biker and high school dropout who became Cunningham's best friend. Happy Days ultimately ran for 11 seasons and 255 episodes after Winkler's character became more of a focal point.

The interview with Winkler was one of a multitude conducted by Philbin throughout his legendary career. He talked to multiple celebrities from various industries, including several professional wrestlers. This includes Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Philbin drew praise for the manner in which he handled these interviews and built a reputation as one of the best in the business.

The tributes continued on Saturday afternoon as millions mourned Philbin. Billy Eichner referred to the host as an icon while Jimmy Kimmel talked about his legacy. Even Motley Crue's bass player, Nikki Sixx, talked about Philbin providing so much joy throughout his life.


"What a loss- The wonderful Regis Philbin. I met him in 1985 when I was on the 'Rodney Dangerfield Young Comedians Special' and we loved each other ever since. Such a TV icon and above all, a good man. My sympathies to Joy and all of his children and friends," comedian Bob Saget tweeted in response to the heartbreaking news.

Prior to his death, Philbin faced several health issues. He had an angioplasty in 1993 and triple bypass surgery in 2007. Philbin also underwent a hip replacement in 2009. Through it all, he continued working and bringing joy to viewers around the world as a TV host and in cameo roles in several movies and TV shows. Philbin appeared in New Girl, Hot in Cleveland, 30 Rock, How I Met Your Mother and The Odd Couple.