Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Television icon, Regis Philbin, who dropped a bombshell with the recent on-air announcement that he would leave “Live with Regis and Kelly” later this year, didn’t hesitate when asked about his favorite episode from the show he has hosted for more than a quarter century. It involved the retirement of another television icon in 1992. “The one that I did in Johnny Carson’s last few months on air,” Philbin said by phone from Palm Beach a few days before making his shocking statement. “I knew he wouldn’t sit still for an interview but I called his producer, a longtime friend, Peter Lassally, and told him I had an idea for one more shot at Johnny before the show ends. “So we flew out from New York with the camera crew to California to shoot Johnny parking his car and walking into the studio, picking out his suit and doing all the things he does before the show,” the 79-year-old continued. “It turned out to be a very funny and beautiful piece that I will always remember and am so happy to have on tape.” Philbin, whose career started in 1961 in San Diego with the local “Regis Philbin Show,” has hosted “Live” since 1983 when it premiered in New York as “The Morning Show.” Kathie Lee Gifford joined him in 1985 and three years later the show debuted in national syndication as “Live with Regis & Kathie Lee.” In 2001, Kelly Ripa replaced Gifford and the program entered its current phase. Philbin grew up wanting to be a vocalist like his hero Bing Crosby. Shortly before graduating from The University of Notre Dame in 1953, he surprised his parents with a private performance. Philbin, accompanied by a piano playing friend, sang the Crosby hit “Pennies from Heaven” for them at a music hall on campus. “My mother was in tears and my father was angry,” Philbin recalled The young man heeded his dad’s advice and set aside his singing ambitions. About 15 years later, though, they would be rekindled thanks to an on-air encounter with the singer he used to emulate. Philbin had gained his first national exposure as Joey Bishop’s sidekick on “The Joey Bishop Show.” The two men would take an hour-long walk each day up and down Vine in Hollywood before taping. One day they discussed what they first remember wanting to be. Philbin admitted to always wishing to be a singer. Bishop said he wanted to grow and be a comedian. Couple months later, Crosby appeared on the show and while the cameras rolled Bishop mentioned that Philbin was his biggest fan and asked the famous crooner to sing for him. Crosby turned to Philbin and did a bit of the classic “Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral (That’s an Irish Lullaby).” Then, Bishop tells Crosby that Philbin would like to sing for him. The young sidekick manned up and did his best “Pennies from Heaven.” “Crosby joined in with me,” Philbin said. “That was a big, big thrill.” SOURCE

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