Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Biography of Regis Philbin

Regis Francis Xavier Philbin (born August 25, 1931) is an Emmy Award-winning American television personality best known for his roles as a talk show host, game show host, singer and presenter at various events.

Appearing on television since the late 1950s, Philbin is often called (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) "the hardest working man in show business", whose work has been primarily in American television.[citation needed]

His trademarks include his excited manner, his New York accent, and irreverent ad-libs. He is most widely known for Live with Regis and Kelly, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and his most recent show, America's Got Talent.

Early life and career

Philbin was named after Regis High School, a Manhattan Jesuit private school his father briefly attended, and after Jesuit Saint Francis Xavier. His father, Frank Philbin, was Irish and his mother, Florence Philbin, was Arbëreshë, an ethnic Albanian living in Italy. Although he was born in Manhattan, New York, they lived in the Van Nest/Morris Park section of the Bronx. It had always been believed that Philbin grew up 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, who had passed away from Non-Hodgekins Lymphoma several days earlier. It had been believed that Philbin was an only child as he had always stated, but he said that his brother, 20 years younger than Regis, had asked Regis to not speak of him on television or in the press.

He graduated 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 and went through a few behind-the-scenes jobs in television and radio before moving into the broadcasting arena.

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 (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.

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.

[edit] Talk show career

Philbin continued in several hosting and other television roles, and by the late 1970s, was a fixture on Los Angeles morning television. From 1975 to 1983, he co-hosted A.M. Los Angeles, a local morning talk show on KABC-TV, first with Sarah Purcell, then with Cyndy Garvey (then wife of Steve Garvey). Philbin's presence brought the show from the bottom of the local ratings to number one.

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 relocated to New York City in 1983. Philbin rejoined Garvey on The Morning Show, another locally-produced morning WABC-TV talk show. At the time, the 9 am time slot for WABC suffered from low ratings. After Garvey departed again, and Ann Abernathy briefly shared co-hosting duties, Philbin was paired with Kathie Lee Johnson (later Kathie Lee 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. Ironically, Regis and Kathie Lee would replace A.M. Los Angeles when the latter was cancelled in 1991.

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. Philbin won a Daytime Emmy Award in 2001 for "Outstanding Talk Show Host", his only Emmy as of 2006. Kelly Ripa was chosen as the permanent co-host in 2001, and the show was renamed Live with Regis and Kelly. Their chemistry has proven successful as the show continues 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.

Philbin has a four-year contract to remain with Live with Regis and Kelly until September 2009.[1]

[edit] Game show career

Philbin was also a game show host. He hosted The Neighbors, a short-lived game show on ABC in 1975, where a female contestant had to guess which of her woman neighbors said gossipy things about her. He was also 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. Undeterred by failure, Philbin's most 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 cancelled for its excessiveness that dragged the ABC network down, 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 won a Daytime Emmy for "Outstanding Game Show Host" in 2001, as host of Who Wants to Be a Millioniare.

In November 2005, ABC announced that Philbin would host the network's revival of This Is Your Life. But in August 2006, he reported that his option on the contract for the show had lapsed and he declined to renew it.[2]

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 multiple times during that time period in order to participate in both Live with Regis and Kelly and America's Got Talent. His difficulty with commuting both cities was an issue, therefore, he will be replaced in 2007 by trashy talk show legend Jerry Springer.[3]

[edit] Other television appearances

[edit] Host

Philbin hosted the Miss America pageant with Kathie Lee Gifford from 1991 to 1995, and solo in 1996.[4] He has also co-hosted televisied parades from the Walt Disney World Resort: the Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade with Gifford (much of the 1990s), Kelly Ripa (2002—), and Ryan Seacrest (2005—), and the Walt Disney World Easter Parade with Joan Lunden (1990s).

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 minor stroke. Philbin claimed to have interrupted his previously planned vacation to perform to do the show. During CNN's New Year's Eve special, hosted by Anderson Cooper, revelers in Times Square told CNN reporter Jason Carroll that Philbin was all right filling in for Clark, though they had Cooper and Carroll.[5]

The following year, Philbin hosted FOX's New Year's Eve Live special with Jillian Barberie, which put him in direct competition with Dick Clark (who co-hosted with Ryan Seacrest). Later that evening, after hosting FOX's New Year's Eve special, he appeared on Fox News Channel's New Year's Eve special, hosted by FNC anchors Mike Jerrick and Juliet Huddy, and shared his thoughts about hosting the special on Fox.

Philbin was also the host of the finale of The Apprentice 2 on December 16, 2004.

[edit] Guest appearances

Regis Philbin appearing on The Late Show with David Letterman, although he would be unseen by viewers without HDTV or who live too far away from an affiliate's transmitter to get a digital, high-definition CBS signal
Regis Philbin appearing on The Late Show with David Letterman, although he would be unseen by viewers without HDTV or who live too far away from an affiliate's transmitter to get a digital, high-definition CBS signal

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 simultaneously his usual urbane self and the "guest from hell" (being a fellow TV host), as they show a heartfelt respect for each other.[6] He also appears on other late night talk shows, such as Jimmy Kimmel Live, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.

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, Regis appeared as a panelist on the 1st season championship game on the ESPN game show 2 Minute Drill.

On February 28, 2004, Philbin also guest starred in a Lilo and Stitch 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.

[edit] 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 and 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 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.[7] He is said to enjoy the music recording experience more now than on his first recording. Philbin is signed on to Hollywood Records.

[edit] Personal life

Joy and Regis Philbin attend the Time 100 2006 gala.
Joy and Regis Philbin attend the Time 100 2006 gala.

Philbin has been married twice and has four children. He was married to Kay Faylan from 1955 to 1968, and to interior decorator Joy Senese in 1970, to whom he still remains married. His children are Amy, Daniel (both with Kay), Joanna, and Jennifer (J.J.) (both with Joy). Joy Philbin occasionally co-hosts with Regis. On Live, he often mentions Joy, and to a lesser degree, Joanna, J.J. and Danny.

Rumors circulate that Philbin once dated Barbara Walters in the 1960s, but that has yet to be proven.

Philbin spends his time between his home in Greenwich, Connecticut and his apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan near the WABC-TV studios. Radio personality Howard Stern is a neighbor of his in the Millennium Tower Building located at 101 W 67th Street. He also has a home in Watch Hill, Rhode Island.

He had a strong bond to his family cat Ashley, who was blind in his final years.[8]

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 accompanied Joe Garner's book, Echoes of Notre Dame Football: Great and Memorable Moments of the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame football coaches, such as Charlie Weis, Tyrone Willingham and Lou Holtz have appeared on Live.

He is known to have trouble handling new technologies. He does not own a cell phone, use computers, and is frequently confused with operating electronics (such as remote controls and DVD players). It is often noted, however, that Regis does not completely reject the technology; he simply has Joy make calls and send e-mails for him.[9]

On March 12, 2007, 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. [10] 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 [the doctors] are all in agreement that it should be the bypass. And so that's what I'm going to do."[11] In addition, Philbin talked with David Letterman, for whom Philbin substituted for on the Late Show with David Letterman during Letterman's own quintuple bypass surgery.[10] The bypass procedure will require Philbin to be absent from Live with Regis and Kelly for some time. He previously had an angioplasty in 1993.[12]

[edit] Regis Philbin in popular culture

[edit] Persona

Philbin has a distinctive and excitable voice with a strong New York accent that is often imitated by others, usually in parodies involving him. Notable impersonators include Ben Affleck, Frank Caliendo, Dana Carvey, Jimmy Fallon, Darrell Hammond, Alex Borstein, Tom Hanks, Conan O'Brien, Mike O'Meara, Eric McCormack and even Kelly Ripa. Carvey and Hammond performed their impressions of him on Saturday Night Live. Fans voted for Hammond and Fallon to receive the "Best Regis" award during Live with Regis and Kelly's "Relly Awards."

He was cast as car salesman Handsome Hal on Hope & Faith mainly because of his voice and mannerisms.

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 "West Side Pigeons" (a Goodfeathers musical parody of West Side Story), a key plot element involves toppling a statue of Martin Scorsese -- and replacing it with one of Philbin.

[edit] 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 basically a suit, shirt and tie coordinated in solid, slightly varying shades of the same, usually dark or muted, color.[6] A Van Heusen clothing line based on this look, called Regis, was short-lived.[13]

When Philbin hosted Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, he used the phrase "Is that your final answer?" whenever he had to verify a contestant's answer. Adoped from Chris Tarrant, this became Philbin's catch phrase during his tenure with the show.

[edit] Awards and recognition

[edit] Selected filmography

Philbin has made brief appearances in several films where he plays himself or his own character, except as noted.

[edit] Discography

[edit] Albums

[edit] Singles

[edit] References

  1. ^ United Press International (2005-12-25). Regis Philbin inks 'Live' contract. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved on 2007-02-16.
  2. ^ "ABC Contemplates Life Without Regis", Broadcasting & Cable, August 30, 2006.
  3. ^ [1], Retrieved on 2007-03-05
  4. ^ Miss America FAQ
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^ a b Larry King Weekend Transcript, November 17, 2002. Larry King Live (2002-11-17). Retrieved on 2007-02-16.
  7. ^ University of Notre Dame Alumni Association Newsletter, October 2005. Retrieved on 2007-02-16.
  8. ^ Starr, Michael (2004-01-06). Regis Feline Blue. New York Post, reprinted. Retrieved on 2006-11-21.
  9. ^ Noted in a late-2005 broadcast episode of LIVE, by Joy Philbin.
  10. ^ a b Regis Philbin to Undergo Bypass Surgery. Extra (2007-03-12). Retrieved on 2007-03-13.
  11. ^ Surgery forces Regis Philbin to cancel McCallum appearance. The Desert Sun (2007-03-12). Retrieved on 2007-03-13.
  12. ^ Kokenes, Chris (2007-03-12). Regis Philbin to have bypass surgery. CNN. Retrieved on 2007-03-13.
  13. ^ Keller, Julie (2000-06-16). EXTRA: Shopping for Regis. Retrieved on 2007-02-16.
  14. ^ Jason Manheim (July 7, 005). Regis Philbin, Winner of the 2005 "Best Celebrity Nickname" Award. Retrieved on 2007-01-28.
  15. ^ National Association of Broadcasters (December 8, 2005). Regis Philbin to Be Inducted into NAB Television Hall of Fame. Press release. Retrieved on 2007-01-28.

[edit] External links

Personal Quotes

"I had a blocked artery. The great thing about it was that all the people sitting at home, watching on the couch, feeling the same up and called the doctor. I still get letters thanking me for saving people's lives."

Where Are They Now

(February 2006) Has announced that he signed a new contract to continue hosting "Live with Regis and Kathie Lee" (1989) for 4 more years. The new contract also gives Regis an option to leave the show after 2 years, as well as giving him an extra day off every week.

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