After a career that spanned from 1961 to the present day, 79 year old master host and entertainer, Regis Philbin has announced plans to retire from LIVE WITH REGIS AND KELLY. The master host is the closest living active link to old Hollywood who still performs before a camera on TV on a regular basis. In fact, Guinness lists Regis Philbin as the most filmed TV personality of all time.
After leaving a stint as an officer in the Navy, Regis Philbin began with some behind the scenes work as a broadcaster, eventually moving up to a cheaply produced local talk show in San Diego, called THE REGIS PHILBIN SHOW. And although Regis Philbin was a ratings disaster in 1964 after he took over the WESTINGHOUSE TONIGHT SHOW after Steve Allen decided to quit, by 1967, comic host Joey Bishop was so impressed with Regis that he asked him to be his co-host for his popular show.
The career of Regis has had many ups and downs. Some of his shows were real ratings disasters and were miserable flops. But, his chemistry with Kathy Lee Johnson(who later married Frank Gifford) in 1985 helped to uptick the ratings for a local TV show that was syndicated in 1988 as LIVE WITH REGIS AND KATHIE LEE. Kathie Lee Gifford left the show in 2000, and with later co-hostess Kelly Rippa the show has continued to hold strong ratings.
Small time coffee talk coupled with the observations of Regis and Kelly about current news and world events, along with celebrity interviews and some rock acts performing with acoustic or light electric guitars have rounded out the shows light daytime TV programming. The Halloween shows are always something special with Regis and Kelly doing some pretty great humor and funny impressions of celebrities.
Over the years, Regis also helped to spur the big hit game show phenomenon for ABC, WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE. But, like other prime time game shows like DEAL OR NO DEAL, these shows are real hot for a short time, then ratings quickly begin to sag once the novelty wears off. But, these sort of prime time game shows do pull down killer ratings for a while.
When Regis leaves the small screen by this Fall, TV will never be quite the same. Regis is a TV legend and irreplaceable. TV will never be quite the same.