Regis Philbin (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Regis Francis Xavier Philbin (born August 25, 1931) is an American media personality, actor and singer, known for hosting talk and game shows since the 1960s. Philbin is often called (somewhat tongue-in-cheek and alternately attributed to James Brown) "the hardest working man in show business" and holds the Guinness World Record for the most time spent in front of a television camera. His trademarks include his excited manner, his New York Bronx accent, his wit, and irreverent ad-libs. He is most widely known for Live! with Regis and Kelly (which rose to fame as Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee), Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Million Dollar Password, and for hosting the first season of America's Got Talent.
After Philbin's contract with Live! with Regis and Kelly was not renewed, his final episode of Live aired on November 18, 2011.
Early life and career
Philbin was born in the Bronx, New York City. His father, Francis "Frank" Philbin, a U.S. Marine who served in the Pacific, was of Irish heritage. His mother, Filomena "Florence" (née Boscia), was of Arbëreshë (Albanian-Italian) descent. They lived at 1990 Cruger Avenue in the Van Nest section of The Bronx. Philbin was raised Roman Catholic. He was supposedly named "Regis" because his father wished him to attend the prestigious Regis High School. It was long believed that Philbin was an only child, but on the February 1, 2007, broadcast of Live with Regis and Kelly, Philbin announced that he did have a brother, Frank M. Philbin (March 1, 1951 - January 27, 2007), who had died from non-Hodgkin lymphoma several days earlier. He said his brother, twenty years younger than he, had asked him to not speak of him on television or in the press.
Philbin attended Our Lady of Solace grammar school in the Bronx. He went on to graduate from Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx in 1949 before attending the University of Notre Dame, where he graduated in 1953 with a sociology degree. He later served in the United States Navy as a Supply Officer, then went through a few behind-the-scenes jobs in television and radio before moving into the broadcasting arena.
In his earliest show business work, Philbin was a page at The Tonight Show in the 1950s. Later, he wrote for Los Angeles talk show host Tom Duggan, and nervously filled in one night when the hard-drinking Duggan didn't show up. He also was an announcer on The Tonight Show in 1962.
His first talk show was The Regis Philbin Show on KOGO-TV (now 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 (influenced by Jack Paar), where he engages his audience (and later on, his co-host) in discussions about his life and the day's events. Infamous wrestler Classy Freddie Blassie was a frequent guest on the KOGO show.
Philbin gained his first national exposure in 1967 as Joey Bishop's sidekick on The Joey Bishop Show on television (1967–1969). In a Johnny Carson-Ed McMahon vein, Bishop would playfully tease Philbin and Philbin would take the barbs in stride. Philbin, however, got his feelings wounded when he learned from the network grapevine that ABC executives were dissatisfied with his work and his thick accent. In response, Philbin, during the opening of one of the programs in 1968, suddenly stopped the show with an unplanned diatribe about 'not being wanted and letting down" the program and abruptly quit on air. A few nights later, assured by Bishop that all was well and the barbs were not personal, Philbin returned, in perhaps one of the oddest developments in live late night television history. When The Joey Bishop Show was canceled, Bishop returned the favor and walked off the show on the air unannounced, leaving Philbin to successfully carry the night on his own.
Talk show career
In 1964, Philbin took over hosting the late night Westinghouse Tonight Show from Hollywood when Steve Allen left the show. The audience did not accept Philbin as a replacement for the zany antics of Allen and the appearance lasted only a few weeks due to dismal ratings. Johnny Carson was too strong in the ratings for the same time slot. Carson was an inspiration for Philbin, according to his own words (PBS, 2008, Pioneers of Television).
From 1975-81, he co-hosted A.M. Los Angeles, a local morning talk show on KABC-TV, first with Sarah Purcell (1975 to 1978), then with Cyndy Garvey (1978 to 1981). Philbin's presence brought the show from the bottom of the local ratings to No. 1.
During the early 1970s, Philbin also commuted each weekend to St. Louis, where he filmed Regis Philbin's Saturday Night in St. Louis on KMOX-TV (now KMOV).
A 1978 book called The Great 1960s Quiz, authored by Dan Carlinksy (pub. Harper & Row), asked, "Who was Regis Philbin?" (p. 7) The answer was "Joey Bishop's sidekick on his late night show." (p. 124) Philbin's seemingly "trivial" national media presence would soon be revived.
In 1981, Philbin and Mary Hart co-hosted a national morning variety series for NBC. The show lasted 18 weeks.
Garvey left Los Angeles and moved to New York City in 1982. Philbin rejoined Garvey on The Morning Show, on WABC-TV. At the time, the 9 am time slot for WABC suffered from low Nielsen ratings due in part to its competition; WNBC-TV was airing Donahue while WCBS-TV countered with a game show block featuring The Joker's Wild and Tic Tac Dough. After Garvey left again, and Ann Abernathy briefly shared co-hosting duties, Philbin was paired with Kathie Lee Johnson (later Gifford), in June 1985, and ratings improved significantly. The show became nationally syndicated in September 1988 as Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee and the success continued. The program would replace A.M. Los Angeles upon its cancellation in 1991 and was eventually picked up by all of the ABC owned-and-operated stations except for WLS in Chicago, which aired The Oprah Winfrey Show in that timeslot and had done so since the show's debut as A.M. Chicago. (Live is carried by the local WGN feed in Chicago; it is not fed to WGN America.)
In the 1980s, Philbin hosted Lifestyles with Regis Philbin on the Lifetime television network.
When Gifford departed in 2000, the show was temporarily named Live! with Regis. Philbin would always have a guest co-host until an official replacement was found. Philbin won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Talk Show Host in 2001. Kelly Ripa was chosen as the permanent co-host in 2001, and the show was renamed Live! with Regis and Kelly. Their chemistry proved to be successful as the show continued to enjoy high ratings.
Philbin set a Guinness World Record for "Most Hours on Camera" on his August 20, 2004, Live show (replacing Hugh Downs), which gave him a total of 15,188 hours on television. On the September 14, 2006, episode of Live, his record was updated to 15,662 hours. His on-air time continues to accumulate.
It was announced on the September 17, 2009, episode of Live with Regis and Kelly during their World Record Breaker week, that Philbin's Guinness Book World Record for most time spent in front of a TV camera had reached 16,343 hours.
In 2008, Philbin's contract with ABC was renewed through to 2011. Under this new contract, Philbin reportedly earns more than US$21 million, but the terms and conditions significantly restrict his ability to negotiate deals with networks other than ABC. However, he received a similar contract with CBS (due to Philbin's hosting of Million Dollar Password).
Game show career
Philbin was also a game show host. He hosted The Neighbors, a short-lived game show on ABC in late-1975/early-1976. The premise of the show had two female contestants guessing which of her three women neighbors said gossipy things about her. In 1976, he was a "field reporter" for ABC's Almost Anything Goes, an American adaptation of the British game show, It's a Knockout. Both shows suffered from poor ratings.
Philbin's more recent game show hosting duties have been much more successful. He was the original host of the U.S. version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, another ABC game show that had its roots in Britain. Millionaire was a big ratings success in its 1999 debut, when it was intended as an occasional special series. ABC aired Millionaire as a regular series with frequent episodes, but its viewership slowly declined. After Millionaire was canceled, it was retooled in 2002 as a syndicated series hosted by Meredith Vieira, which continues today. ABC brought back Millionaire in 2004 with Philbin, retitled Who Wants to Be a Super Millionaire, a related series that was aired on a more limited basis. Philbin had appeared in 11 episodes of a special edition of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, which started on August 9, 2009, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the show. He also was a celebrity contestant in this version. Millionaire, in its syndicated format, uses guest hosts for selected weeks during the season and Philbin also hosted a week of episodes that aired in November 2009, coinciding with his 2009 surgery.
Philbin won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host in 2001, as host of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
In November 2005, ABC announced that Philbin would host the network's revival of This Is Your Life. In August 2006, he reported that his option on the contract for the show had lapsed and he declined to renew it.
Philbin hosted the first season of America's Got Talent, a Simon Cowell-produced amateur talent search show on NBC, during the summer of 2006. He flew between New York City and Los Angeles many times during that time period, in order to participate in both Live with Regis and Kelly and AGT. His difficulty with commuting between the two cities was an issue, as were his health problems from the past. Therefore, he was replaced in 2007 by talk show host Jerry Springer. In regards to filling Philbin's spot, Springer noted that "no one fills in for Regis. He's the best there ever was at this so you pay homage to him."
However, Philbin's affiliation with FremantleMedia started to develop. He hosted a revival of the Password franchise entitled Million Dollar Password, which premiered June 1, 2008, and ended in 2009.
Other television appearances
On December 31, 2004, Philbin filled in for Dick Clark on ABC's Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve, as Clark was recovering from a stroke. Philbin (who is a year and a half younger than Clark) lightheartedly claimed to have interrupted his previously planned vacation to do the show. During CNN's New Year's Eve special, hosted by Anderson Cooper and broadcast on both CNN and CNN International, revelers in Times Square told CNN reporter Jason Carroll that Philbin was "all right" filling in for Clark, though they had Cooper and Carroll.
Philbin was also the host of the finale of The Apprentice 2 on December 16, 2004, and the official 30-minute red carpet arrivals at the 80th Academy Awards ceremony on February 24, 2008.
Philbin hosted the 37th Daytime Emmy Awards on June 27, 2010.
Perhaps to bring good luck, some premiering talk shows, such as The View and The Tony Danza Show, had signed Philbin to be their first guest.
Philbin was a celebrity guest at WrestleMania VII in Los Angeles in 1991, commentating on the main event between Hulk Hogan and Sgt. Slaughter.
On December 25, 2000, Philbin appeared as a panelist on the first season championship game of the ESPN game show 2 Minute Drill.
On February 28, 2004, Philbin also guest starred in a Lilo & Stitch: The Series episode called "Drowsy".
On May 15, 2006, Philbin appeared as a special guest, alongside Howie Mandel, for a 2-hour special episode of Deal or No Deal on NBC.
Philbin has appeared three times on Celebrity Jeopardy!, the most appearances for any competing celebrity on the game show Jeopardy!. He played for Cardinal Hayes High School, his alma mater. In November 2006, he won his competition and earned $50,000 for the school.
Philbin appeared as a contestant on Celebrity Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? in November 2007. He again played for his alma mater, Cardinal Hayes High School. He dropped out of the game and went home with $175,000 for the school.
In September 2008, Philbin guest starred as himself on How I Met Your Mother, and Ugly Betty. On Mother, Philbin joined the cast of the show in the search for New York's best hamburger. He was revealed to work out at Barney's gym, and has his picture hung in the "Best Burger" restaurant, and also in every other suspected best burger restaurant, such as Corner Bistro and Veggie Heaven; this was most likely for irony, as the Regis Philbin picture was the only detail Marshall Eriksen remembered about the restaurant, besides the neon burger sign and green door. In the show, he hosted a "show within a show" called Million Dollar Heads or Tails, which referenced both Million Dollar Password in name and Millionaire (in that a game element featured "polling the audience," which came out evenly split, "50/50", the names of two of the lifelines in that game).
On December 25, 2009, Philbin attended Christmas Mass with Father Edward L. Beck and Timothy Dolan, the current Archbishop of New York, at The Sunday Mass and gave a special interview discussing how being a Catholic has influenced his life.
In February 2011, Philbin made an appearance on Take Two with Phineas and Ferb, taking on as the host. On July 3, 2011, Philbin was a celebrity guest on the The Marriage Ref, alongside Tracy Morgan and Susie Essman.
On May 29, 2012, Philbin appeared on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight during the show's Guest Host Week. Philbin's guest was his long-time friend and fellow television host David Letterman.
In September 2012, Philbin said he is going to appear on Rachael Ray once a month.
Written and musical works
In addition to being a television personality, Philbin is also an author and 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 conversational or anecdotal style of his host chats. The former book 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 book 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 a singer, Philbin can best be described as a crooner in the style of his favorite singers: Dean Martin, Perry Como, and Frank Sinatra. 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 duetting 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 that 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 on his first recording. Philbin is signed on to Hollywood Records.
Philbin has been married twice and has four children. He was married to Catherine "Kay" Faylen, daughter of actor Frank Faylen, from 1955–1968, and he has been married to interior decorator Joy Senese since 1970. His children are Amy, Daniel (both with Faylen), Joanna, and Jennifer "J. J." (both with Senese). Joy Philbin occasionally co-hosted with her husband Regis. On Live, he often mentioned Joy, and to a lesser degree, Joanna, J.J., Amy, and Danny. When Danny was born, he didn't have some vertebrae and he was missing some muscles in his leg. He had to spend his childhood at the Angel View Crippled Children's Foundation in California. During the September 11 attacks, Philbin noted on air that he was very worried about Danny, who worked at The Pentagon and uses a wheelchair. Danny emerged from the terrorist attack safe, and since the tragedy Regis has joined Danny at Walter Reed Army Medical Center to visit injured troops. In August 2007, Regis and Joy Philbin announced that their daughter J. J. and her husband, Michael Schur, were expecting their first child in February 2008. William Xavier Schur was born on February 18, 2008. He weighed , and was 19 inches in length. William Xavier is named after Regis, Xavier being his confirmation name. He is also nicknamed "Mr. Trouble" by Regis and often referred to as such on Live. At 7:54 p.m., on July 14, 2010, J.J. gave birth to a daughter, Ivy Elizabeth, in California.
Philbin spends time between his home in Greenwich, Connecticut, and apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan across from the WABC-TV studios.
Philbin follows the professional sports world extensively, enjoying baseball as well as football. He is an avid fan of the New York Yankees and a proud supporter of the sports teams of his alma mater, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish – so proud, in fact, that Philbin narrated the two audio CDs that accompanied Joe Garner's book, Echoes of Notre Dame Football: Great and Memorable Moments of the Fighting Irish. Philbin played on the Notre Dame tennis team (putting his recent statements in an ad where he claimed to have learned tennis from second wife Joy, in doubt). Notre Dame football coaches, such as Charlie Weis, Tyrone Willingham, and Lou Holtz have appeared on Live. Along with being a Yankees fan, Regis is also "keeping an eye on the Florida Marlins." On May 5, 2009, he delivered the first pitch at a Marlins game. He has also supported the Pittsburgh Pirates in recent years as well. During his Southern California years, he was a regular at parties at Hugh Hefner's Playboy Mansion.
In March 1984, Philbin opened a Ford dealership in Gilbert, Arizona, as a side investment during his career in television. The dealership, Philbin Ford, suffered due to the already over-saturated auto market in the area, and was closed in late 1988.
He is known to have trouble handling new technology and is frequently confused when operating electronics (such as remote controls and DVD players). He does not usually use computers (although he did use one for an episode of Live during summer 2008, demonstrating how to find homes online) and did not own a cell phone until September 10, 2008. It is often noted, however, that Philbin does not completely reject the technology; he simply has Joy make calls and send e-mails for him.
On March 12, 2007, during an episode of Live with Regis and Kelly, Philbin announced that he would undergo triple bypass surgery later that week, as he had experienced chest pains and shortness of breath the previous two weeks and doctors found plaque in his arteries. He said, "Darn it, I don't want to do it. Nobody wants to do it, I guess. But they tell me. And I had a second opinion, I did all those things [tests for heart disease], and so they [the doctors] are all in agreement that it should be the bypass. And so that's what I'm going to do." In addition, Philbin talked with David Letterman, for whom Philbin substituted on Late Show with David Letterman during Letterman's own quintuple bypass surgery. Philbin's heart surgery at Weill Cornell Medical Center on March 14 was successful and he returned to the show on April 26. He previously had an angioplasty in 1993.
On the November 23, 2009, Live with Regis and Kelly show, Philbin announced that he intended to take some time off to undergo hip-replacement surgery. "I'm allowed to announce I'm going into hip surgery. I'm going to have my hip replaced. I've been limping around here. It's really painful," he said on Live, which was broadcasting from Las Vegas that week. The surgery was performed on December 1. Philbin was expected to take four to six weeks off to recover. It was announced that Regis would return on Monday, January 4, 2010, to his regular hosting duties to kick off the new year.
On May 14, 2010, it was announced that Philbin would undergo surgery to have a blood clot removed from his calf. He returned the next day.
He was cast as car salesman, Handsome Hal, on Kelly Ripa's sitcom Hope & Faith.
He once played the piccolo in this role.
He was chosen as the voice of a minor female character in Shrek the Third: Mabel, the sister of the Ugly Stepsister (played by Larry King).
In the Animaniacs episode "Pigeon on a Roof" (a Goodfeathers musical parody of Fiddler on the Roof), a key plot element involves toppling a statue of Martin Scorsese"and replacing it with one of Philbin.
Also, several Hey Arnold! episodes would feature a talk show that parodied Regis and Kathie Lee. The male host, in addition, would always get extremely excited in a parody of Philbin.
He is mentioned in Christian artist Steven Curtis Chapman's song "Live Out Loud."
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
During the successful first run of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Philbin popularized the monochromatic look in men's formalwear that emphasizes color rather than pattern in ties and dress shirts. His look was a suit, shirt and tie coordinated in solid, slightly varying shades of the same, usually dark or muted, color. A Van Heusen clothing line based on this look, called Regis, was short-lived.
When Philbin hosted Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, he used the phrase "Is that your final answer?" whenever he had to confirm a contestant's answer. Adopted from Chris Tarrant, this became Philbin's catch phrase during his tenure with the show.
In August 2009, Philbin returned for a 2-week stint as host of Millionaire. The 11 shows (Sunday-to-Thursday twice, plus one extra Sunday) started airing August 9 on ABC primetime.
Philbin (along with Steve Harvey and John Henson) were named the 2009-10 guest hosts of the daily Millionaire. Philbin's episodes aired November 30-December 4, 2009, and debuted new rules on the show.
2007 Neiman Marcus Christmas Book
In October 2007, Philbin was featured in the 100th anniversary issue of the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book. He was a host of the Classical Superstars Fantasy Concert, which included piano virtuoso Lola Astanova with Russia's Kirov Orchestra led by conductor Valery Gergiev. The super concert for 500 guests was offered for sale at $1.6 million.
Awards and honors
May 2001: winner, Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
May 2001: winner, Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Talk Show Host, Live with Regis (tie with Rosie O'Donnell)
February 2001: winner, TV Guide Award Personality of the Year
January 1, 2002: Grand Marshal of Tournament of Roses Parade
February 2003: winner, Walter Camp Distinguished American Award
April 10, 2003: receives star on Hollywood Walk of Fame
August 20, 2004: sets Guinness World Record for "Most Hours on Camera" - 15,188 hours
July 2005: winner, PR.com "Best Celebrity Nickname"
April 2006: winner, Daytime Emmy Award: Outstanding Special Class Special, 2005 Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade (co-host with Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest)
April 2006: inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame
September 2008: Guinness World Record updated to 16,100 hours
June 2008: Lifetime Achievement Award from the Daytime Emmy Awards
2009: Guinness World Record updated to 16,540.5 hours
2010: Golden Mike's Broadcast Legend Award, Radio and Television News Association of Southern California
2011: winner, Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Talk Show Host, Live with Regis and Kelly (tie with Dr. Oz)
November 18, 2011: Philbin received a key to the City of New York from Mayor Michael Bloomberg to honor his twenty eight year contribution to New York media.