Disney Legend Regis Philbin Passes Away at 88

Disney Legend Regis Philbin passed away from natural causes on Friday, July 24, his family shared.

The Emmy® Award-winning morning show host, who was also beloved for hosting ABC’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, was set to turn 89 in August.

“We are heartbroken to hear that a longtime colleague and friend, Regis Philbin, passed away at the age of 88,” said Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger. “Regis graced us with warmth, humor, and self-deprecating wit, always bringing happiness to us all. Our hearts go out to Joy and to his family. Rest in Peace, Regis.”

Born on August 25, 1931, Regis, a native New Yorker, graduated from University of Notre Dame in 1953 with a degree in sociology. After serving in the Navy, he began a standard apprenticeship in television: page, stagehand, sports newswriter, and substitute anchor. Regis first tasted fame on ABC’s The Joey Bishop Show from 1967 to 1969 and would go on to co-host the KABC-TV’s local morning talk show A.M. Los Angeles before moving back east to take over WABC-TV’s The Morning Show. There, he eventually paired up with Kathie Lee Gifford, and in 1988, Buena Vista Television picked the show up for national syndication and re-titled it Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, a name that lasted until Gifford departed in 2000. In 2001, Regis won a Daytime Emmy® Award for Outstanding Talk Show Host, and Kelly Ripa joined him at the morning show. The pair spent a decade together until Regis departed the show in 2011.

For Disney’s Hyperion publishing arm, he wrote Who Wants to Be Me? and co-authored two cookbooks with Kathie Lee Gifford.

Regis hosted the Disney Christmas Parade specials more than a dozen times and appeared in several guest appearances on Kelly Ripa’s ABC series Hope & Faith, as car salesman Handsome Hal Halverson. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2003, and in 2008 received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Daytime Emmys.

In 2011 Regis was inducted as a Disney Legend at D23 Expo.

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