Earlier today, beloved television talk show host Regis Philbin signed off for the final time on Live. The eighty year old has made it very clear he’s not retiring, but if nothing else, his departure will lessen the frequency he’s seen on air. For other entertainers, a break in the schedule might be relaxing, but for Regis, television is all he’s ever known. No performer has ever spent more time in front of the camera than Philbin. I recently saw an estimate that said he’d broadcast more than fifteen thousand hours of his life. That’s truly remarkable and a testament to just how much viewers have come to love him.
A lot of different reasons could be pointed to as explanation for why Regis has thrived for so long, but I think there’s probably three that stand above the rest. The first would be his storytelling. No one spins a yarn quite like Regis, and few can match his astounding ability to recall details. He can call someone out for a bad hairstyle she had decades ago or an ill-advised comment he made to a production assistant the last time he was on the show. Plus, it helps that Regis has been famous for five decades; so, he’s socialized with an astounding number of famous people. You bring up Mike Wallace, he’s probably got a story about feeding his cat.
Regis’ second main strength is his candor. Other talk show hosts might write off situations as not worthy of being talked about, but there’s no subject too small for his attention. He could go ten minutes discussing a grocery store run. If pushed, he could probably do an entire show on things he’s talked about with his doorman. It might not seem like great television on paper, but it’s surprisingly endearing.
And the final reason for my money is Regis’ sense of humor. He’s not really a comedian, but his tone and mannerisms are really funny. He conveys so much in his inflection, and he always knows exactly where the laugh is. He might not hit it every time, but he’s always pointed in the right direction.
For me, Regis’ candor trumps all else. That’s what I’ll miss most about him. What do you think? What did you appreciate most about him? Sound off by voting in the poll below…
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