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What Happened to Regis Philbin? Inside the TV Host’s Incredible Decades-Long Career Before His Death

Talk show legend Regis Philbin led a tremendous career on television, winning the hearts of millions with several popular series. The Emmy winner’s talent and infectious personality transcended generations even after departing Live with Regis and Kelly.  

Regis, born in 1931, attended the University of Notre Dame where he studied sociology. The New York native served in the U.S. Navy from 1953 until 1955. In a 2006 interview with the Television Academy, Regis explained that his introduction to the world of show business was influenced by his uncle, who was a publicist for the radio show Arthur Godfrey and His Friends.

“I was kind of connected to the business through him, not that I ever told him I wanted to be a part of it, but I was always anxious to hear the stories he could tell me about the family that Godfrey created around him for that radio show,” he said. “But I never thought in a million years I would ever be able to do anything in front of a camera or a microphone. I didn’t know what, frankly, I was going to do with my life.”

After his time in the Navy and moving to California, Regis took on several roles before becoming one of the most popular television personalities of all time. However, he admitted during a November 2011 interview with AARP that the road to stardom wasn’t always easy. 

“I had my years of struggling,” he said. “Some of my shows failed miserably, and I was upset by it and it dented my confidence. But I never stopped. I kept going for it. And when I returned to New York from Los Angeles, I mean, it was make it or not — that was my last chance. And what a great chance it was, to make it in my own hometown.”  

He continued: “I knew by that point in my life that I had to be live on television. I couldn’t have anybody writing for me; that didn’t make sense. I couldn’t deliver a joke if you asked me to. It would have to be live and spontaneous. And that’s what I was able to have in New York, at 9 o’clock in the morning, and people all over the country seemed to respond to it.”

Keep scrolling to learn more about what happened to Regis after he found fame.