Just days after his death, funeral and burial plans for beloved television host Regis Philbin have been announced. Philbin died Friday at the age of 88 and is set to have a final send off at Notre Dame's campus. University spokesman Dennis Brown confirmed to the South Bend Tribune Sunday that a funeral service will be held at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, with Philbin set to be buried at Cedar Grove Cemetery on campus. A date for the services has not yet been announced.
Philbin's funeral and burial plans come as little surprise, as he had graduated from Notre Dame in 1953 and often returned to the South Bend area and the campus for football games, pep rallies, banquets, concerts, and other events. In 1998, while attending a news conference, he said that while his career took him to exotic and famous locations, "nothing excites me like coming back to South Bend-Mishawaka." In 2001, he donated $2.75 million to the university to create the Philbin Studio Theatre, meant for laboratory and performance-arts productions, in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. Just a year later, he invited Larry King to Notre Dame’s campus after learning he had never been.
Given Philbin's continued close ties to the campus, his death shook the community especially hard. After the legendary TV host's family confirmed Saturday that he died of "natural causes" just a month before his 89th birthday, Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins issued a statement.
"Regis regaled millions on air through the years, oftentimes sharing a passionate love for his alma mater with viewers," Jenkins said. "He will be remembered at Notre Dame for his unfailing support for the university and its mission, including the Philbin Studio Theater in our performing arts center."
Jenkins, however, was just one of many to pay their respects. Philbin's longtime friend and VP of university relations, Lou Nanni, said, "we were blessed that he brought Notre Dame into the home of so many Americans year in and year out over several decades," according to WSBT 22. She said that his "blood is in the bricks of Notre Dame…it's in the hearts of this country and will be for many generations to come." She added that "we are grateful that his final resting place will be at his alma mater that he loves so much."
Born in The Bronx, New York on Aug. 23, 1931, Philbin's first known job in the entertainment industry was as a page for the Tonight Show in 1955. He hosted his first talk show in San Diego during the early 1960s, and, in 1967, he became Joey Bishop's sidekick on The Joey Bishop Show. Throughout his decades-long career, he would go on to host a number of other series, including Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee, later hosting with Kelly Ripa, as well as Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?