The U.S. Navy honored veteran Regis Philbin on Saturday after news of his passing broke. Philbin's death was announced by his family this weekend in a statement published by PEOPLE, and people from every walk of life had fond memories of him. While Philbin was best-known for his TV career, the official U.S. Navy Twitter account made sure fans remembered his military service as well.
"Fair winds and following seas, Mr. Philbin. We have the watch, Shipmate!" read the Navy's send-off of Philbin on Saturday. The post included an old black and white photo of Philbin from his Navy days, along with a brief summary of his record. Philbin achieved the rank of Lieutenant (junior grade,) and served as a Supply Corps Officer from 1953 to 1955. The very year he was discharged, Philbin took a job that would change his life as a page on The Tonight Show.
Fair winds and following seas, Mr. Philbin.July 25, 2020
Philbin was born and raised in the Bronx in New York City. After high school, he attended the University of Notre Dame, graduating in 1953 and then enlisting in the U.S. Navy. He served for two years before pursuing his career in entertainment.
Philbin worked odd jobs behind the scenes on TV shows while auditioning as an actor and trying to find his way in. He got his first chance to host a talk show himself when he was writing for a Los Angeles-based regional show called KCOP. Tom Duggan, the usual host who was known for a hard-partying lifestyle, did not show up for work one day, and Philbin was chosen to fill in.
From there, Philbin hosted a number of talk shows, growing in popularity until he and his co-host from The Morning Show, Kathie Lee Gifford, became so popular that they went national. That as the beginning of Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee.
Philbin is also widely remembered as the first host of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and a few other games shows as well. In the last two decades, he has become such a cultural icon that he frequently visited other TV shows to play a fictional version of himself, including How I Met Your Mother, New Girl and The Simpsons.
Philbin's family confirmed that he had died of natural causes at home on Friday. He is survived by three daughters and his wife. Their statement reads: "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. 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."