US talk show legend Regis Philbin dead at 88

A 2012 photo shows Regis Philbin arriving for the Emmy Awards in New York. PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Regis Philbin, an award-winning fixture of American talk show culture, has died at the age of 88, media reports said on Saturday (July 25).

Philbin, a playful and self-deprecating New Yorker with a thick Bronx accent, died on Friday of natural causes, People magazine reported, quoting a statement from the family.

Philbin was best known to many Americans as co-host of a daytime talk show that began in 1988 called Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee.

Working with Kathie Lee Gifford and later with another co-host, Philbin appeared on the show for 23 years.

Part of his popular shtick was to spend a few minutes at the beginning of each show talking about banalities like where he had dinner the night before.

Philbin also hosted the wildly popular Who Wants To Be A Millionaire game show, which ran from 1999 to 2002.

He won Emmys as a talk show and game show host.

And he held the Guinness record for number of hours spent on television in America - about 17,000, according to The New York Times.

In 2011, as Philbin was preparing to leave his talk show, the Times paid tribute to him as someone who stood out on TV.

"In a daytime landscape filled with bland, polished hosts and smarmy good cheer, Mr Philbin was crumpled, nasal and histrionic. He was a snaggletooth amid cosmetic dentistry and porcelain veneers," the paper said.

Among those remembering Philbin on Saturday was a fellow New Yorker, Donald Trump.

"He was a fantastic person, and my friend. He kept telling me to run for President," the US president tweeted.

"Holds the record for 'most live television,' and he did it well. Regis, we love you."

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