Regis Philbin Goes on Media Blitz During His Final Week On Air
Regis Philbin holds the distinction of being the Guinness World Record-holder for having spent the most amount of time on television out of anyone, ever.
And, on Friday, Nov. 18, he brings his reign to an end, filming his last show as host of ABC's morning show, Live! With Regis and Kelly (his co-host, Kelly Ripa will take over the program with a rotating schedule of counterparts).
But, Philbin, whose new memoir, How I Got This Way hit shelves Nov. 15, has waged a wide-ranging media blitz, sharing stories from his long-running career (though many are the same tale) in numerous interviews published this week.
“That was kind of a highlight of my life,” Philbin told the New York Times of becoming the host of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. “I realized there was a difference between a syndicated morning show and prime time. ‘Regis saved the network!’ I used to walk around saying that. I was a big man! I was a giant! It was a wonderful time in a broadcaster’s life to get a show like that. Wow, it was dynamite.”
He also told the Times of wanting to host Saturday Night Live, but admits it may be a long shot, saying, “I think the audience for that show would rather have some young guy playing a vampire somewhere.”
Newsweek asked the venerable TV personality who he'd like to interview him given the choice. Philbin chose Jerry Seinfeld. "What do you do that gets you to where you think, 'I can make this work'?" Seinfeld asked of Philbin's ability to be entertaining by just being himself.
"You know, I never knew if I had any talent when I started in this business. My first job was being a page at The Tonight Show. I saw Jack Paar come out one night and sit on the edge of his desk and talk about what he’d done the night before. I thought, “I can do that!” I used to do that on a street corner in the Bronx with all my buddies," the ABC host responded.
NPR highlights a story from the memoir, in which Philbin quit his gig as Joey Bishop's on-air sidekick while live on the air. "Philbin reveals that the walk-off was a ratings stunt designed by Bishop to stave off competition from Johnny Carson," says NPR.
“When I was leaving the Navy, this major came up to me -- the toughest guy I ever met -- and he said, ‘Well, what are you gonna do with your life, Philbin?’," the host told the New York Post as well as NPR and recounted it in his book. "'And I said, ‘I’d like to go into television, but I don’t know. I’m afraid.’ And he said, ‘Don’t you know you can do anything you want in this life? You’ve only got to want it bad enough. Now DO YOU WANT IT?!’ And I said, ‘Yes, I want it, but I just don’t know if I can do it.’ And he blew up, got in my face and yelled, ‘DO! YOU! WANT! IT!’ I said, ‘YES, SIR!’ And he said, ‘Get in your car and go to Hollywood and go get it!’ And I did.”
Parade did a short Q&A with Philbin, asking how he and David Letterman became friends. "One of his producers told me that Dave liked me and invited me to do something on his show. I would run down the aisle throwing out candy to the audience. Then one night I sat down to talk with Dave, and it turned out to be quite funny. I’ve just written a book about the 30 people who influenced me most, and he’s one of them."
Newsday also followed the Q&A format, asking just three. When questioned as to what the high and low of his career has been, Philbin said, "The best is looking back at the entire run. When I came here, I got battered by the press . . . and it was those little obstacles I had to overcome. And looking back, I think we did present a good show to New York, and that's what pleases me most. The low point? Hmmm . . . I wish I could come up with something funny. I just can't.