The Irreplaceable Regis Philbin

The Daytime Emmys offered some drama Sunday night, what with one of Jack Hanna’s alligators trying to eat an award, General Hospital scoring five awards, Anderson Cooper sharing a duet with Sesame Street’s Oscar the Grouch, and police investigating a possible murder-suicide at the Beverly Hilton hours prior to the broadcast there. And then there was Live with Regis and Kelly winning its first and only Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show (Entertainment). Only, because Philbin retired late last year. When it was announced in January 2011 that he would leave the show I wrote a blog entry on my previous website, The MovieHamlet, where I reached the conclusion that he was in slightly worse shape than he might seem, having undergone a triple-bypass surgery as well as a hip replacement. I also chronicled his background story. Bear with me as I quote myself, but this time also offering a few noteworthy clips:

 

Regis Philbin started out as a page on The Tonight Show sometime in the Middle Ages. He got his own show in San Diego in 1961, served as Joey Bishop’s sidekick on TV for a while [watch the clip above where the couple’s wearing Nehru jackets], and in 1983 he started Live as a local New York program. He has become a legendary American TV icon and it is easy to see why everybody seems to love him; he’s funny, clever, immensely likable and doesn’t mind making fun of himself. He’ll be damn near impossible to replace on the show.

 

The clip from above serves as a good illustration of what I mean when I say that Regis is funny, clever and immensely likable. In the Bishop clip he was a perfect sidekick, but 40 years later he’s a TV icon, at ease serving as host of one talk show and as a guest on another, delivering old anecdotes and engaging in playful banter with his buddy Dave Letterman.

An update is in order. Since I wrote that blog entry a year and a half ago I was genuinely wondering how they would replace Philbin. The answer: they seem unable to do it! Live with Regis and Kelly turned into Live with Kelly but the intention was always to come up with a new co-host for Ripa. That has yet to materialize, months and months after the search began (and I imagine it actually started months before Philbin left the show last November). In the meantime, numerous celebrities have filled the spot as guest co-hosts. It has been speculated recently that Ripa’s husband, Mark Consuelos, would take the job, but she has shot down those rumors. According to US Weekly, hot candidates include Josh Groban, Jerry O’Connell and Nick Lachey. Well, the search goes on.

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