Regis Philbin, one of the country’s best-loved on-air personalities for decades, has died of natural causes. He was 88.
In a statement, his family told People: “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 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.”
TMZ reported he suffered a heart attack in Manhattan. Philbin had long battled cardiac issues, undergoing several procedures throughout his life.
Born in New York City, his on-air presence stretched across the better part of a century, with stints on morning talk shows, game shows, live specials, and much more.
He was the first host of the popular trivia contest show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, helming it from 1999 to 2002, and he hosted the original season of America’s Got Talent. He won multiple awards for his work, including Daytime Emmys. As he became a ubiquitous household name, he also made guest appearances in shows and movies.
He is survived by his wife Joy Senese, and daughters J.J., Joanna, and Amy from two marriages.
His longest-running show, the New York-based morning talk show Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee—later Live! With Regis and Kelly after his co-host’s departure—began in 1988, and he retired from the show in 2011. The show continues today with hosts Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest.
Kathie Lee Gifford offered a remembrance to her late co-host on Instagram: “There are no words to fully express the love I have for my precious friend, Regis. I simply adored him and every day with him was a gift. We spent 15 years together bantering and bickering and laughing ourselves silly—a tradition and a friendship we shared up to this very day...There has never been anyone like him. And there never will be.”
Ripa wrote in a tribute to Philbin, “We are beyond saddened to learn about the loss of Regis Philbin. He was the ultimate class act, bringing his laughter and joy into our homes everyday on Live for more than 23 years. We were beyond lucky to have him as a mentor in our careers and aspire everyday to fill his shoes on the show.”
President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter that Philbin often encouraged him to run for president. “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 wrote.
After graduating from Notre Dame University and serving in the Navy, Philbin started his television career as a page on The Tonight Show in the 1950s. He ended his life holding the Guinness World Record for the most hours appearing on U.S. television.