Monday, September 3, 2007
Regis Philbin And His Jesuit Connection
It's happy anniversary to Regis Philbin's morning show, which begins its 20th season today. Philbin has been doing talk shows of one kind or another for twice that long. ..
He started out life as Regis Francis Xavier Philbin with Irish and Albanian ancestry. He was named Regis after a Catholic Jesuit school in Bronx, N.Y. His Bronx heritage makes him an automatic Yankees fan. The Irish side is responsible for his Fighting Irish attitude and Notre Dame education, where he majored in sociology. But he was fascinated with television from the start.
In fact, Philbin was a page on NBC's "Tonight!" in 1954, the first year it was on. Steve Allen was the host. Philbin did his first talk show in San Diego in the 1960s and was once a sidekick on Joey Bishop's late-night show. In 1973 Philbin moved to Los Angeles to do a morning show. He also co-hosted a program with Mary Hart in 1981. .....
Philbin holds the Guinness record for the most hours in front of a television camera -- nearly 16,000. Ripa's in the Guinness book for throwing the most pies in someone's face in a minute, which she did just to become a record holder. ......
Could the show survive without Philbin if he headed for the exit? It depends on who took the chair beside Ripa. "The Tonight Show" moved on when Johnny Carson retired after almost three decades. Like Carson, who was a nightcap for millions, Philbin would be sorely missed with that morning cup of coffee.
Read the full Tom Dorsey piece in the Courier-Journal (here)