Regis Philbin, better known as the hardest working man in show business, a man who also holds the world record for most hours on TV passed away at the age of 88 last Friday.
Prior to his prolific personality being put on display as host of ABC’s morning show, “Regis and Kelly” along with the thrilling quiz program “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” in addition to many more broadcast appearances, Philbin started his life as an everyday kid from the Bronx on Tuesday, August 25, 1931.
He grew up in northwest Morris Park by Cruger and Bronxdale Avenues, an intersection that was co-named for the television sensation of the past two centuries.
Philbin was even quoted referencing the Bronx while reminiscing on the start of his career one time.
“You know, I never knew if I had any talent when I started in this business. My first job was being a page at ‘The Tonight Show’. I saw Jack Paar come out one night and sit on the edge of his desk and talk about what he’d done the night before. I thought, ‘I can do that!’ I used to do that on a street corner in the Bronx with all my buddies.”
Before he played tennis and earned a sociology degree from the University of Notre Dame in the early 1950s, his Catholic school tenure began on the Grand Concourse at Cardinal Hayes High School in the south Bronx in the class of ’49.
Philbin had such pride in his alma mater that he covered renovation costs for the Cardinal Hayes auditorium in the late 1990s, a venue now named after the iconic personality, according to Bronx Borough Historian, Lloyd Ultan.
It was also around that time when Philbin was one of the inaugural inductees to the Bronx Walk of Fame in 1997 — his plaque placed right next to Cardinal Hayes on the Grand Concourse at E. 153rd Street.
Philbin even attended the formal unveiling at the Bronx Ball that year, according to the Bronx Tourism Council.
Locally, his memory was honored by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. as one of the borough’s most notable success stories:
Today we mourn the loss of Bronxite Regis Philbin. Regis may have been one of the most recognizable media personalities of our time, but he never forgot his roots and was in the first class of inductees honored on the Bronx Walk of Fame in 1997. #RIP #RegisPhilbin pic.twitter.com/4albEEeMhG
— Ruben Diaz Jr. (@rubendiazjr) July 25, 2020
Governor Andrew Cuomo too made note of Philbin’s Bronx roots:
New York lost a TV legend today.
Bronx born and raised, Regis Philbin greeted us for years with our morning coffee and at night after dinner.
His humor and enthusiasm touched millions of Americans. My heart goes out to Joy and his loved ones.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) July 25, 2020
Philbin was also remembered fondly throughout the media world by the many friends he had made in the business:
REGIS. There will never be another.
— Kathie Lee Gifford (@KathieLGifford) July 25, 2020
Regis Philbin and I “recreated” The Battle of the Sexes in 2008 @usopen.
Fortunately, he took it easy on me, & we enjoyed the Open from my box together that night.
He was gracious, kind, & oh so very funny. Our condolences to his wife Joy & his family.
Rest In Peace, Regis. pic.twitter.com/RFVGj4PXER
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) July 25, 2020
So sad to hear of the passing of the great Regis Philbin. He was a guest on @CenterStage and he could not have been nicer and sweeter to the whole crew. A consummate broadcaster, he commanded a room with humor and energy. He was a force of nature and will be terribly missed.
— Michael Kay (@RealMichaelKay) July 25, 2020
“Regis will be remembered at Notre Dame for his unfailing support for the University and its mission, including the Philbin Studio Theater in our performing arts center.”
— Notre Dame (@NotreDame) July 25, 2020
That time Regis Philbin picked the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI 💙 pic.twitter.com/2l4zDnNgUv
— New York Giants (@Giants) July 26, 2020
Fair winds and following seas, Mr. Philbin.
— U.S. Navy (@USNavy) July 25, 2020
After Philbin’s passing, his family released a statement expressing gratitude for all the time they had spent together.
“His family and friends are forever grateful for the time we got to spend with him – for his warmth, his legendary sense of humor, and his singular ability to make every day into something worth talking about,” the statement said. “We thank his fans and admirers for their incredible support over his 60-year career and ask for privacy as we mourn his loss.”