Iconic television host Regis Philbin died of heart disease over the weekend at the age of 88 years old. His legendary career spanned 60 years and earned a world record for most hours spent on camera.
Once known as the hardest working man in show business, he talked to millions every morning and gave them lifelines at night.
At the millennium, Philbin asked Americans Who Wants to be a Millionaire and the mega-hit made billions for flailing network ABC. President Trump, who once filmed a “Celebrity Question” for the show, tweeted that the game show host was a “fantastic person, and my friend,” he went on to reveal, “He kept telling me to run for President.”
One of the greats in the history of television, Regis Philbin has passed on to even greater airwaves, at 88. He was a fantastic person, and my friend. He kept telling me to run for President. Holds the record for “most live television”, and he did it well. Regis, we love you….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2020
Since his passing, a clip of the show’s very first winner asking Philbin for a lifeline to call his father has gone viral.
Before Millionaire, Philbin spent fifteen years hosting the nationally syndicated morning show Live! with co-host Kathy Lee Gifford. She posted an emotional tribute to her former partner on Instagram. “There are no words to fully express the love I have for my precious friend, Regis.” Along with a photo of the two of them on set she wrote, “There has never been anyone like him. And there will never be.”
View this post on Instagram
There are no words to fully express the love I have for my precious friend, Regis. I simply adored him and every day with him was a gift. We spent 15 years together bantering and bickering and laughing ourselves silly—a tradition and a friendship we shared up to this very day. I smile knowing somewhere in Heaven, at this very moment, he’s making someone laugh. It brings me great comfort knowing that he had a personal relationship with his Lord that brought him great peace. I send all the love in my heart to Joy, to his children, to the rest of his family and to the innumerable people he touched over his legendary life. There has never been anyone like him. And there never will be.
Gifford’s replacement, Kelly Ripa, who hosted Live! with Philbin for over a decade and current co-host Ryan Seacrest, posted a joint statement along with a photo of themselves with Mickey Mouse and Philbin. “We were beyond lucky to have him as a mentor in our careers,” they captioned, “and aspire every day to fill his shoes on the show.”
View this post on Instagram
We are beyond saddened to learn about the loss of Regis Philbin. He was the ultimate class act, bringing his laughter and joy into our homes everyday on Live for more than 23 years. We were beyond lucky to have him as a mentor in our careers and aspire everyday to fill his shoes on the show. We send our deepest love and condolences to his family and hope they can find some comfort in knowing he left the world a better place. – Kelly and Ryan
Fans and celebrities also paid tribute to Philbin across social media.