The following biography
Regis Francis Xavier Philbin (born August 25,
1931), is an experienced American talk show host whose career has included
stints as a game show host and all-purpose television personality. Appearing on
television since at least the 1960s, and confirmed by his Guinness World Record,
he is consistently called "the hardest working man in show business." Regis'
nicknames include Reege or Reeg, and Big Daddy.
life and career
Philbin was named after his father's alma mater
Regis High School, a Manhattan Jesuit private school. Philbin grew up as an only
child in an Irish/Italian household in the Van Nest/Morris Park section of the
Bronx. He graduated from Notre Dame in 1953, served in the Navy, then went
through a few behind-the-scenes jobs in television and radio before moving into
His first talk show was The Regis Philbin Show, on
KGTV in San Diego, California. For budgetary reasons he had no writing staff,
leading him to begin each show with what has become his hallmark, the "host
chat" segment, where he engages his audience (and later on, his cohost) in
discussions about his life and the events of the day.
Philbin gained his first national exposure in 1967
as Joey Bishop's sidekick on The Joey Bishop Show (1967-1969). Bishop liked to
tease Philbin, but the teasing stopped after Philbin walked off the set during a
live broadcast, and stayed away for several days.
and game show success
He continued in several hosting and other
television roles; by 1983 he joined Cyndy Garvey on The Morning Show on WABC-TV
in New York City. The show became a hit after Garvey was replaced by Kathie Lee
Gifford in 1985; it became nationally syndicated in 1988 as Live with Regis and
In the 1980s, Philbin hosted Lifestyles with Regis
Philbin on the Lifetime television network.
When Gifford departed in 2000, the show was named
Live with Regis. Philbin would always have a guest co-host until an official
replacement was found. It should be noted that officially as a solo talk show
host, Philbin won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Talk Show Host, in 2001.
This marks the only time that Philbin would receive such an award (thus far),
with or without a cohost.
When Kelly Ripa was chosen as the permanent co-host
in 2001, the show was renamed Live with Regis and Kelly. Philbin's and Ripa's
chemistry has been proven successful, as the show continues today and enjoys
Philbin set a Guinness World Record on his August
20, 2004 show, which gave him a total of 15,188 hours on television. The
previous record holder for Most Hours on Camera was Hugh Downs.
In July 2005, rumors circulated on the cover of The
National Enquirer that Philbin was fired from his talk show because he was asked
to be let out of his contract. It would be difficult for him to be fired because
of his extensive involvement with the show (as one of the executive producers,
the other being Michael Gelman) and of possible backlash from his fans. However,
if he decides to retire, it would be when he feels it's time to do so.
Philbin was also host of the U.S. network (ABC)
version of the game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (now in syndication and
hosted by Meredith Vieira) and the special Super Millionaire series. His
popularity and exposure were cemented with that show (see below). Should ABC
produce more Super Millionaire specials in the future (presumably during sweeps
periods), Philbin is expected to remain as its host. He also won a Daytime Emmy
for Outstanding Game Show Host in 2001.
In November 2005, ABC announced that Regis will
host the network's revival of This Is Your Life, the announcement coming days
before the death of its original host, Ralph Edwards.
notable appearances on television and film
Philbin makes regular guest appearances on The Late
Show with David Letterman where he gives David Letterman no great help in
controlling the show, being at the same time his usual urbane self and the
"guest from hell" (being a fellow TV host), as they show a heartfelt respect for
On December 31, 2004, Regis filled in for Dick
Clark on ABC's Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin Eve, as Clark was recovering from
a minor stroke. Philbin said he interrupted his previously planned vacation to
perform his hosting duties. In November 2005, FOX announced that Philbin will
host that network's New Year's Eve Live special, directly competing with Dick
Philbin hosted The Apprentice 2 finale (December
16, 2004), and has co-hosted the Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade with
Kelly Ripa (2002—) and Kathie Lee (much of the 1990s)
On film, more often than not, Philbin appears as
himself with few exceptions (see below). Here are a few movies where Regis
appears as himself:
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But
Were Afraid to Ask) (film), 1972
Little Nicky, 2000
Cheaper by the Dozen, 2003
Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous, 2005
and musical works
In addition to being a television personality,
Philbin is also an author and a singer, drawing on the success of his talk show.
Philbin's two autobiographies (with co-author Bill
Zehme), I'm Only One Man! (1995) and Who Wants To Be Me? (2000), are written in
the style of his host chats: conversational and anecdotal. The former follows a
year (1994-1995) in his life, recalling, among other things: his personal life,
his memories with celebrities, and work on Live with Regis and Kathie Lee. The
latter is a response to the success of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and deals
with more antics about the show and his life.
As for his musical career, Philbin's style can be
best described as a crooner, with the likes of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. He
tested the musical waters with his 1968 pop vocal release, It's Time For Regis!
After receiving poor reviews, Philbin was reluctant to record another studio
album. But he occasionally sang on Live, usually in a duet with another person.
After 36 years, he recorded When You're Smiling (2004), a more mature-sounding
pop standards album. The Regis Philbin Christmas Album was released September
2005 according to Amazon.com but was made widely available in November in time
for the holiday season. This album features several duets, with close friend
Donald Trump ("Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"), Steve Tyrell ("Marshmallow
World"), and wife Joy ("Baby It's Cold Outside" and "Winter Wonderland"). A
special edition of the album was produced with tracks recorded with the Notre
Dame Glee Club. He is said to enjoy the music recording experience more now than
with his first time.
Philbin has been married twice and has four
children. He was married to Kay Faylan from 1955 to 1968, and remarried to
interior designer Joy Senese in 1970. His children are Amy, Daniel (both with
Kay), Joanna, and Jennifer ("J.J.") (both with Joy). Joy Philbin occasionally
cohosts with Regis. On his show, he frequently brings up stories involving Joy,
Joanna, J.J., or Danny; his ex-wife and Amy are rarely or never mentioned.
Philbin in popular culture and other trivia
Philbin has a distinctive and excitable voice that
is often imitated by others, usually in parodies involving him. Notable
impersonators include: Darrell Hammond, Dana Carvey (both of whom have
impersonated him on Saturday Night Live), Conan O'Brien, Tom Hanks, Jimmy
Fallon, Frank Caliendo, and even Kelly Ripa.
He was cast as a car salesman on Hope and Faith, in
part, because of his voice.
He was chosen as the voice of a minor character in
Shrek 3: Mabel, the sister of the Ugly Stepsister (played by Larry King).
Wants To Be A Millionaire
During the successful first run of the first
American version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, Philbin started a fashion
fad when he wore dark shirts with dark ties—both in the same color—and dark
suits, in a darker color, usually black. He even had a short-lived clothing line
based on this look, called Regis.
In Millionaire, the phrase, "Is that your final
answer?" is said repeatedly by the host, as it is required to verify a
contestant's answer. As a result, that phrase has become Philbin's catch phrase
which he adopted from Chris Tarrant.
Philbin follows the professional sports world
extensively, especially baseball and football. He is an avid fan of the New York
Yankees and a proud supporter of his alma mater, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
So proud, in fact, that Philbin narrated the two audio CDs that came with Joe
Garner's book, Echoes of Notre Dame Football: Great and Memorable Moments of the
He is known to have trouble handling new
technologies. He doesn't own a cell phone, use computers, and is frequently
confused with operating electronics like remote controls and DVD players. It is
often noted, however, that Regis doesn't completely reject the technology; he
simply has Joy make calls and send e-mails for him.
The Philbin family had a cat named Ashley, who was
blind in her final years.
May 2001: Daytime Emmy Award winner: Outstanding
Game Show Host, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
May 2001: Daytime Emmy Award winner: Outstanding
Talk Show Host, Live with Regis (tie with Rosie O'Donnell)
2001: TV Guide Personality of the Year
January 1, 2002: Grand Marshal of Tournament of
February 2003: Walter Camp's "Distinguished
American Award" winner
April 10, 2003: Receives Star on Hollywood Walk of
August 20, 2004: Sets Guinness World Record for
"Most Hours on Camera"--15,188 hours
July 2005: PR.com "Best Celebrity Nickname" winner
2005: The Regis Philbin Christmas Album US: #74 UK:
163 (US Sales: 42,000)
2005: Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer (feat. Donald
Trump) "you're fired and Rudolph you're hired"
2005: Frosty The Snowman
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