2020 dealt the world another low blow today—iconic television host Regis Philbin has died at the age of 88.
His family announced the news on Saturday and released this statement: “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.”
As a member of the Oregon Trail generation, I grew up seeing Regis on our kitchen TV set alongside Kathie Lee Gifford on Live with Regis and Kathie Lee. Later, I often tuned in to watch Regis coaching anxious contestants in “the hot seat” on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, where he showcased the perfect blend of humor and heart. His many (many!) appearances on The Late Show With David Letterman were always entertaining, and it was Regis who frequently filled in for Letterman when the talk show host took a hiatus for quintuple bypass surgery in the year 2000.
Tributes and memories of the late star started rolling in on Twitter as soon as the news hit Saturday afternoon.
The Bachelor franchise host Chris Harrison tweeted, “We throw this word around too much but Regis Philbin was a legend.”
We throw this word around too much but Regis Philbin was a legend. He was a true gentleman I’m glad I got to know and a TV host I admired and was honored to follow. Much like Arnold Palmer everybody has a great “Regis” story, I’m grateful I have mine
— Chris Harrison (@chrisbharrison) July 25, 2020
Actress Lisa Rinna tweeted, “You changed my life and I will never forget the lessons you taught me. You showed me how to fly.”
The end of an era. A great friend and mentor. I will never forget your generosity of spirit sweet Regis.
You changed my life and I will never forget the lessons you taught me. You showed me how to fly.
— lisa rinna (@lisarinna) July 25, 2020
Fellow talk show host Jimmy Kimmel tweeted, “Regis was a great broadcaster, a good friend and a tremendous amount of fun . . . I hope our friend (Don) Rickles met you at the pearly gates with open arms and a slew of the insults you loved so much.”
Regis was a great broadcaster, a good friend and a tremendous amount of fun. He leaves behind a beautiful family and a TV legacy that will likely go unmatched. Regis, I hope our friend Rickles met you at the pearly gates with open arms and a slew of the insults you loved so much
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) July 25, 2020
Paula Abdul shared her condolences for Regis, saying “So sad to hear about the passing of my lovely friend Regis Philbin. You brought joy and happiness to so many. You will be missed.”
So sad to hear about the passing of my lovely friend Regis Philbin. You brought joy and happiness to so many. You will be missed ❤️ XoP
— Paula Abdul (@PaulaAbdul) July 25, 2020
Rosie O’Donnell called Regis “a lovely man” and shared a clip of the two on set together.
— ROSIE (@Rosie) July 25, 2020
And Regis wasn’t just a beloved TV host because of his personality—his gift of gab translated into an official Guinness World Record: the most hours on television. Regis logged 16,746.5 hours on US television during his 50-year career.
According to Guinness World Records: "The most hours on US television is 16,746.50 hours by presenter Regis Philbin" https://t.co/RUzfEJfJYT
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) July 25, 2020
An impressive career for one of the nation’s most enduring personalities, indeed. Rest in peace, Regis!