Regis Philbin Announces He’s Retiring

The host with Kelly Ripa of Disney-ABC Domestic Television's Live With Regis and Kelly says he will be stepping down from the show around the end of the summer, though he didn't specify a departure date.

NEW YORK (AP) – For such a famously excitable guy, Regis Philbin made his big announcement with surprising calm: He’s retiring from his show.

Philbin delivered the news at the start of Tuesday morning’s “Live With Regis and Kelly,” which he has hosted for more than a quarter-century, most recently sharing hosting duties with Kelly Ripa.

He said he would be stepping down from the show around the end of the summer, though he didn’t specify a departure date.

“I don’t want to alarm anybody,” he began, then said, “This will be my last year on the show.”

His brief remarks came during the show’s off-the-cuff “host chat,” after he and Ripa had batted the breeze about the Golden Globes, football and the icy weather outside.

“It’s been a long time, it’s been 28 years,” Philbin said reflectively, speaking of his current Manhattan-based show. “It was the biggest thrill of my life to come back to New York, where I grew up as a kid watching TV in the early days, you know, never even dreaming that I would one day have the ability, or whatever it takes, to get in front of the camera and talk to it. …


“There is a time that everything must come to an end for certain people on camera – especially certain old people!” cracked Philbin, who turns 80 in August.

“I wish I could do something to make you change your mind,” said Ripa.

“Now waaait a minute,” Philbin said slyly.

The show’s distributors, Disney-ABC Domestic Television, said in a statement the “Live” franchise will continue, adding that a new co-host will be named to join Ripa, who marks 10 years with the show next month.

But Philbin, referring to his time left on the show, assured viewers, “We’ll have a lot of fun between now and then.”

Philbin’s leave-taking will happen not long after another giant of daytime TV, Oprah Winfrey, ends her syndicated show to concentrate on her new cable network. A Philbin contemporary in the broadcasting world, 77-year-old Larry King, retired from his prime-time CNN talk show last month. His successor, Piers Morgan, debuted Monday.

Since the 1950s, Philbin has been a TV fixture, though for years he worked mostly for local stations.

In 1967, he won national exposure as the announcer and sidekick on comic Joey Bishop’s short-lived ABC late-night show.

Later on, Philbin became a star in local morning television – first in Los Angeles, then, in 1983, in New York. In 1985, he teamed with Kathie Lee Johnson, a year before she married former football star Frank Gifford, and their show went into national syndication in 1988.

Philbin clicked with daytime audiences as a common man who loved to sound off about familiar frustrations, even as he lived a life rubbing elbows with fellow celebrities.

Gifford left the show in 2000. After a tryout period for a replacement, soap star Ripa (“All My Children”) filled the slot.

One of daytime syndication’s most enduring hits, “Live With Regis and Kelly” was seen by an average of 4 million viewers according to a recent Nielsen Co. report.

Typically the show airs live from its Manhattan studio at 9 a.m. Eastern time, though it is broadcast by some stations later in the day.

A decade ago, Philbin conquered prime time as host of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” which became a ratings phenomenon for ABC.

A three-time Emmy Award winner, Philbin was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences at the Daytime Emmy Awards in 2008.

Comments (4)

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Mary Beth Garber says:

January 18, 2011 at 11:39 am

A broadcasting legend. He will be missed.

Scott McDaniel says:

January 18, 2011 at 11:57 am

Aw, Reg, say it isn’t so! I spent nearly a year chasing you around an above ground swimming pool in little US towns every Sunday night with my hand-held camera on ABC”s ALMOST ANYTHING GOES. We laughed every monday morning in yet another town’s airport as you belly-ached about getting back to LA for your KABC-TV AM Los Angeles Show…the stories I could, (maybe should) tell…I should come be your replacement, after all, I’ve already walked miles in your footsrteps. All my best, and remember your moving back to NYC was John C. Severino’s biggest loss!
Peter Bright

Hayley Hamilton says:

January 18, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Broadcasting legend ???? He’s the biggest snob on daytime television!!!! LEAVE NOW !!!!!! Get some real talent in the morning slots !!!!!

Mark MacCarthy says:

February 9, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Hey—the snob in the above comment doesn’t know much about live television, or is a baby in the business. Regis does the same schick since his San Diego days— TV is what you see IS what you get. You better be yourself in tv-land or you don’t last. Barb Walters said 15 or 20 years ago, the first 20 minutes of the Regis show is the best live TV on TV and she’s right. The Snob evidently doesn’t realize the long-standing warmth between Letterman and Regis—nor Regis and his following, not only in NYCity, but nationwide. Sure, the matter of taste can be very personal—but Regis IS one of a kind, and TV audiences will NOT tolerate a snob for 40 years. Regis knows who he is…. and he plays the role of a Schmuck very well, indeed!! He loves it!!