Regis Philbin, Longtime TV Host and Actor, Dead at 88

Regis Philbin, the beloved television icon, died Friday, his family said in a statement to PEOPLE Magazine. Philbin's career stretched back 60 years, and included the long-running Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee and the original Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Philbin also hosted countless other game shows and the first season of America's Got Talent.

"We are deeply saddened to share that our beloved Regis Philbin passed away last night of natural causes, one month shy of his 89th birthday," Philbin's family said. "His family and friends are forever grateful for the time we got to spend with him – for his warmth, his legendary sense of humor, and his singular ability to make every day into something worth talking about. We thank his fans and admirers for their incredible support over his 60-year career and ask for privacy as we mourn his loss."

Philbin was born in The Bronx, New York on Aug. 23, 1931. After graduating from the University of Notre Dame in 1953 with a sociology degree, he served in the U.S. Navy, where he got a taste for broadcasting. His first known job in the entertainment industry was as a page for the Tonight Show in 1955. Philbin hosted his first talk show in San Diego during the early 1960s.

In 1967, Philbin became Joey Bishop's sidekick on The Joey Bishop Show, which helped launch his national career. Even as he continued paving his talk show career, he also started hosting game shows in the 1970s. In the 1980s, he moved back to New York, where he began hosting Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee. Philbin continued hosting even after Kathie Lee Gifford left. Kelly Ripa replaced Gifford full-time in 2001 and Philbin continued hosting until his retirement in 2011.

Philbin famously hosted the first version of the U.S. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? quiz show, getting to deliver the unforgettable phrase "Is that your final question?" Philbin hosted the show from 1999 to 2002, coming back for special events in 2004 and 2009 on ABC. He earned the Emmy for Outstanding Game Show Host for the series in 2001.

Philbin received countless honors throughout his life, including the Daytime Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. Live! was nominated for Outstanding Talk Show host almost every year. Philbin and Ripa shared the Outstanding Talk Show Host Emmy in 2011 and 2012.

The American public loved Philbin so much that he often played himself in movies and television shows. He most recently appeared as himself in episodes of Fresh Off The Boat and Single Parents. He could also be seen bringing his brand of humor and wit to episodes of New Girl, Hot in Cleveland, 30 Rock and The Odd Couple.

0comments

During his career, Philbin faced several health issues. He had an angioplasty in 1993 and triple bypass surgery in 2007. He had his hip replaced in 2009.

Philbin is survived by his daughters, Joanna Philbin, Amy Philbin and comedy writer J.J. Philbin. He and his first wife, Catherine Faylen, were also parents to son Daniel Philbin, who died in 2014. Philbin was married to Faylen from 1955 to 1968 and Joy Senese from 1970 until his death.