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Regis Francis Xavier Philbin (August 25, 1931 – July 24, 2020) was an American television presenter, talk show host, game show host, actor, and singer. Once called "the hardest working man in show business", he held the Guinness World Record for the most hours spent on U.S. television.

After graduating from the University of Notre Dame, Philbin served in the U.S. Navy and got his television start serving as a page for The Tonight Show in the 1950s. He got his first network television exposure in 1967 as Joey Bishop's sidekick on The Joey Bishop Show. Philbin also hosted Million Dollar Password and the first season of America's Got Talent.

He is most widely known as the co-host of the New York City-based nationally syndicated talk show Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee, starting in 1988, which became Live! with Regis and Kelly in 2001, and continued as Live! with Kelly after Philbin's departure in 2011. He is also well-known as the original host of the US version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, the most-watched prime-time series of the 1999-2000 US television season.

Host of Primetime Millionaire

Regis crowned nine million dollar winners during his tenure as the host of primetime Millionaire (two of them won progressive jackpot prizes). These were John Carpenter, Dan Blonsky, Joe Trela, Bob House, Kim Hunt, David Goodman, Kevin Olmstead, Bernie Cullen and Ed Toutant.

His show was more successful than the UK with more top prize winners; by the time Ed Toutant became the ninth U.S. millionaire, the UK version had only two top prize winners: Judith Keppel and David Edwards. Philbin never crowned a female millionaire.

Host of Super Millionaire

In 2004, Regis also became host of Who Wants to Be a Super Millionaire in which contestants would compete for a top prize of $10,000,000 instead of $1,000,000. Here, no one won the top prize, but Robert Essig walked away with $1,000,000.

Host of the 10th Anniversary Special

Ken Basin and his million dollar question

In 2009, the show celebrated 10 years on the air and Regis was chosen to host the show. In the final episode of the special, Regis almost crowned his first millionaire in eight years, and America's first in six years, when Ken Basin got to the million dollar question. However, he answered his question incorrectly and lost $475,000, becoming the first person ever on the U.S. version to miss the final question. The drought of top prize winners would continue for another three months until Sam Murray won the Tournament of Ten and a million dollars on November 20, 2009.

At the end of the last episode, he introduced Meredith Vieira as the celebrity contestant who would be playing for $50,000, but Meredith reveals that the celebrity is actually him, although he didn't switch seats with her, much to his surprise. Despite this being so sudden, he had a charity to play for, Cardinal Hayes High School in Bronx, New York, the high school he attended. The Phone-a-Friends he had available were Alan Alda and Donald Trump. His question was:

$50,000 (1 of 1) - Not timed
Which of the following has never been the answer to a winning million dollar question on the primetime version of "Millionaire"?
"Double Dip" lifeline used.
• A: Richard Nixon • B: Peru
• C: The Grapes of Wrath • D: 93 million
At first, Regis did not know the answer until Meredith reminded him of John Carpenter, in which he remembered that the answer to his question was Richard Nixon. He then remembered that 93 million was also one too. Stuck between "Peru" and "The Grapes of Wrath," he used Double Dip and makes "Peru" his first guess, which was wrong. He then went for "The Grapes of Wrath" and wins $50,000 for Cardinal Hayes High School.

Richard Nixon - John Carpenter
Peru - David Goodman
93 million - Dan Blonsky

Total Winnings: $50,000

He was the only celebrity contestant to use the Double Dip lifeline. Also, while thinking about the question, he mentions having had eight million dollar winners, not nine.

Host of Syndicated Millionaire

From 2007 to 2011, when Vieira was working as a co-host of Today along with her role as the host of the daytime version of Millionaire, guest hosts have appeared during the second half of each season. Regis Philbin was one of those hosts from November 30 through December 4, 2009.

He made another appearance during the same season to ask a contestant a Celebrity Question about his other show, Live with Regis and Kelly and the name of the "quirky awards show" they have each year, which features a "Best Regis" category. The contestant was able to give the correct answer of "The Relly Awards."

He made another appearance during the same season to ask a contestant, Jesse Thomas a Celebrity Question about a classic episode of Seinfeld what Kramer promotes for appearing on his other show, Live with Regis and Kathie Lee. The contestant uses Ask the Expert and gives expert, Donny Deutsch the question. He guess the incorrect answer of "Brassiere for Men". The goes with that and leaves with $5,000. The correct answer is "Coffee table book."

Gallery

Regis on Jeopardy! 1992.png

Regis on Jeopardy!

Regis appearing for a Celebrity Question.

Regis as host of WWTBAM for episode of TV series "Fresh Off The Boat" (2019)

Trivia

  • Regis competed on Celebrity Jeopardy! three times: First in 1992, placing second in his game and winning $10,000 for charity. His second appearance was in 1998, placing third and again winning $10,000. His third and to date final appearance was during the two-week Celebrity special in 2006, winning his game and $50,000 for charity.
  • He was also a panelist on ESPN's 2 Minute Drill, in which the game's two-minute clock utilizes the ticking sound from the Phone-a-Friend lifeline.
  • One of his songs, back when he was a singer, "Where or When", was played during the credits of the first episode of the second season as a tribute after his death.
Preceded by
N/A
U.S. Hosts
Regis Philbin
Succeeded by
Meredith Vieira
Preceded by
Steve Nash
10th Anniversary Celebrity Contestant
Regis Philbin
Succeeded by
N/A
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