Hearts broke when news of Regis Philbin's death hit the headlines. The 88-year-old passed away of heart disease on July 24 and has left a lasting impression on many. The longtime television personality had a 60-year career in Hollywood, with one of his most famous chapters being on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and Executive Producer Michael Davies has honored him by calling Philbin "the last great broadcaster."
"I don't mean this at all pejoratively, because we love our grandparents, but Regis was 68 when he started the show," Davies said of Philbin hosting the popular show according to the Hollywood Reporter. The producer mentioned that Philbin seemingly had more faith in that show that he did, adding that no one could have brought so much success to Who Wants to Be a Millionaire other than Philbin himself. "It was the most modern game show that had ever been on TV, so, to some extent, this was Grandpa operating the spaceship. Having him in the seat gave the audience an enormous amount of comfort, but sometimes Grandpa just wanted the contestants to get to the point."
Davies confessed that Philbin was quite impatient when it came to contestants competing for the one million dollar prize because some would take so long to answer. "In many ways, Regis was the last great broadcaster," Davies continued. " He was the last person who came from a time and place where the job was to appeal to everyone — and he did it without being soft or corny or anybody but himself. The man who crossed Columbus Avenue to come to work form his condo on 67th Street was the same man who sat in that chair. It sounds easy, but you can count the people on one hand who are truly capable of doing it. I might have gotten Millionaire on the air without Regis. It could have gone 10 episodes, but we certainly wouldn't have made 400 primetime episodes in three seasons. No one but Regis could have done that."
Since the legendary icon's death, several celebrities and fans alike have shared their sweetest memories with and of the television personality, including his longtime co-host Kathie Lee Gifford. The two hosted Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee. Gifford has several sweet moments with Philbin and credits him for protecting her during some of her darkest, public days when her late husband Frank Gifford cheated on her. She added that she was with him a few weeks before his unexpected death and could tell something was a little off, but nevertheless, they shared a few laughs and enjoyed each other's company.