Regis Philbin has died, relatives of the longtime television personality confirmed Saturday. The former co-host of “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee” and host of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” was 88.
“We are deeply saddened to share that our beloved Regis Philbin passed away last night of natural causes, one month shy of his 89th birthday,” his family said in a statement, PEOPLE first reported.
“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. We thank his fans and admirers for their incredible support over his 60-year career and ask for privacy as we mourn his loss,” the statement said.
Mr. Philbin was born in The Bronx in 1931. He entered show business in 1955, he recalled in a 2011 interview, beginning as a page for NBC at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan. He appeared on a number of TV programs during the decades that followed, including shows hosted by Joey Bishop and Steve Allen, among others, before ultimately becoming a household name by the end of the century.
Perhaps most notably, Mr. Philbin spent more than two decades on morning television starring in popular, nationally syndicated talk shows he co-hosted, first with Kathie Lee Gifford and later Kelly Ripa. “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee” ran from 1988 through 2000 and was followed by “Live! with Regis and Kelly” from 2001 through 2011. He also hosted the first several seasons of the hit game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” on ABC starting in 1999, followed more recently by “Million Dollar Password” and “America’s Got Talent.”
Tributes to Mr. Philbin poured in once news of his death broke Saturday afternoon, with President Trump and current “Millionaire” host Jimmy Kimmel among prominent Twitter users quick to react.
“One of the greats in the history of television, Regis Philbin has passed on to even greater airwaves, at 88. He was a fantastic person, and my friend. He kept telling me to run for President. Holds the record for ‘most live television’, and he did it well,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter. “Regis, we love you….And to Joy, his wonderful wife who he loved so much, my warmest condolences!!!”
“Regis was a great broadcaster, a good friend and a tremendous amount of fun. He leaves behind a beautiful family and a TV legacy that will likely go unmatched,” Mr. Kimmell said on Twitter.