As the face to which millions of Americans have woken up every morning, Regis Philbin is a cultural icon in television broadcasting. In November 2011, the energetic host of the successful morning show Live! with Regis and Kelly stepped down, cementing his place as the Guinness World Record™ holder for Most Hours on Camera by any person. In addition to his daytime success, he was also popular on nighttime television with Who Wants to be a Millionaire and Super Millionaire, and he was the original host of America's Got Talent. He has also hosted the red carpet arrivals show for the Academy Awards. He's the author of several best-selling books, and his latest, How I Got This Way (It Books), shot immediately to the top of the New York Times best-seller list.
Since Philbin first stepped in front of the camera more than 50 years ago, he has ambitiously tackled talk shows, game shows, the literary world, and even the fashion industry. In May 2001, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences honored him with a Daytime Emmy as Outstanding Game Show Host for Who Wants to be a Millionaire, and another Emmy as Outstanding Talk Show Host for his syndicated program, Live! with Regis. He and Kelly Ripa also received the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Special Class Special for hosting the 2005 "Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade."
Early on, Philbin took A.M. Los Angeles from the bottom of the ratings to number one, where the show remained throughout his seven-year tenure. At the national level, he served as Joey Bishop's sidekick on The Joey Bishop Show and helmed The Regis Philbin Show, a daily 30 minute program that received an Emmy for Outstanding Daytime Variety Series.
His popular Live! show format originated in 1983 when Philbin created The Morning Show for WABC in his native Manhattan. It quickly became the number one show in the market. Kathie Lee Gifford joined him in June 1985, and in September 1988 the program debuted in national syndication and the title was changed to Live! with Regis & Kathie Lee. In 2001, Philbin was joined by Ripa, and the program entered a new era as Live! with Regis and Kelly.
Two of his non-televised projects are true labors of love. In September, 2004, Hollywood Records released Philbin's album of timeless songs, When You're Smiling, produced by acclaimed producer/singer Steve Tyrell. The disc isn't his first musical venture - that was 1968's It's Time for Regis!, recorded during his days on The Joey Bishop Show. It took 38 years for his follow-up album, a collection of some of the greatest songs in American pop music, including "Pennies From Heaven" and "It Had to be You." Based on the success of When You're Smiling, Hollywood Records signed Philbin for a follow-up album of Christmas classics, also produced by Tyrell. The Regis Philbin Christmas Album, which debuted in September, 2005, features duets with Joy Philbin, Tyrell, a special appearance by Donald Trump, and was one of the season's top-selling holiday albums.
In 2001, Philbin received a TV Guide Award as Personality of the Year, and a Broadcasting & Cable Lifetime Achievement Award. He also was presented with a Crystal Apple Award from New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani for his contributions to the New York television industry.
Other accolades include the Walter Camp "Distinguished American Award" at Yale University and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Philbin was the 2006 inductee into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame and in December of 2006 was selected by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences to be inducted into the Television Academy's Hall of Fame.
Philbin is also the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. A native of New York City, he is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and received an honorary doctorate of law degree for his contributions to Notre Dame and South Bend. Philbin and wife Joy have two grown daughters, Joanna and Jennifer.
Photo by Yolanda Perez