Regis Philbin: Television Legend, Navy Veteran 1931-2020

Regis Philbin: Television Legend, Navy Veteran 1931-2020

Regis Philbin was best known for his over the top personality, television hosting abilities, and his love for his alma mater, the University of Notre Dame. However, this passionate man was also a veteran of the US Navy. This television legend and military veteran passed away of natural causes at the age of 88 on July 24. 

People fell in love with Regis over and over again in the first fifteen to twenty minutes of his morning show Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee (1985-2000), and then Live! with Regis and Kelly (2001- his retirement in 2011). They loved the banter he had with his co-hosts, and they laughed when he feigned indignation at not getting the best seat at a restaurant, was henpecked by his partner, or overreacted to a Notre Dame win or loss. 

Between being welcomed into people’s homes each morning over coffee for decades, and then again in prime time when he hosted the game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” Philbin logged more than 15,000 hours on the air. This earned him the recognition of the most broadcast hours logged by a TV personality by the Guinness Book of World Records. 

Before he became a television legend, Regis Philbin attended the University of Notre Dame. After graduating in 1953, Philbin joined the US Navy. He spent two years serving as a supply officer in the Navy. He was last stationed at NAB Coronado with Landing Ship Squadron One. On his final day of service, a Major asked him what he was going to do for the rest of his life. 

Regis responded with hesitation, “I’d like to go into television, but I don’t know what I could do. I’m not a comedian. I’m not a singer. I’m not a dancer. I’m none of these things but I’d like to go into it, but I don’t know if I have any talent.” 

The Major responded, “Don’t you know you could have anything you want in this life, you’ve only got to want it bad enough. Now, do you want it?” 

“Yes, sir. I want it,” Regis told him. 

Regis Philbin got his dream and he lived his life on the television screen. He was a part of countless lives throughout his decades-long career. Many grew up watching him on Live! and Millionaire. When he retired in 2011, households across the country had to adjust to not hearing his voice as they sipped their morning coffee. Regis Philbin truly was a legend and will remain one of the greats of television history.