Regis Philbin passed away on Friday, just one month shy of his 89th birthday.
“We are deeply saddened to share that our beloved Regis Philbin passed away last night of natural causes,” his family exclusively shared with PEOPLE. “His family and friends are forever grateful for the time we got to spend with him – for his warmth, his legendary sense of humor, and his singular ability to make every day into something worth talking about. We thank his fans and admirers for their incredible support over his 60-year career and ask for privacy as we mourn his loss.”
The talk- and game-show host was a fixture in American culture who we watched every morning alongside Kathie Lee Gifford and Kelly Ripa and every evening on his hit show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. He was a hilariously relatable Everyman who holds the Guinness World Record for being the most-watched person in television history, with more than 17,000 hours of airtime — equivalent to two full years, night and day, according to the New York Times.
Born August 25, 1931, Regis grew up in the Bronx and worked as a stagehand, screenwriter, and TV actor before he rose to fame and settled in as the TV personality America loved for nearly six decades. He received a Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2003 and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Daytime Emmy Awards in 2008.
Regis is survived by his wife of 50 years, Joy Philbin, and their two daughters, J.J. and Joanna, along with a daughter, Amy, from his previous marriage to Catherine Faylen. He and Faylen also had a son, Daniel, who died in 2014.
Over the weekend, tributes to the beloved star poured in on social media. Former co-star Kathie Lee Gifford wrote in a tweet, “REGIS. There will never be another.”
In a joint statement on Instagram, Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest, who currently host the ABC talk show Regis first hosted, remembered him fondly as well: ”We are beyond saddened to learn about the loss of Regis Philbin,” they wrote. “He was the ultimate class act, bringing his laughter and joy into our homes every day on Live for more than 23 years. We were beyond lucky to have him as a mentor in our careers and aspire every day to fill his shoes on the show. We send our deepest love and condolences to his family and hope they can find some comfort in knowing he left the world a better place.”
In honor of the man who filled our homes with so much laugher, here are three of his his most memorable moments:
The first time a contestant won $1 million on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire may be the greatest game show moment of all time. And of course, Regis is there upping the suspense factor and adding in a dash of dry humor.
Regis and Kathie Lee Gifford had a friendship everybody loved to watch. Their witty banter and penchant for hilarious put-downs made them welcome visitors in our homes every morning, so their final show truly felt like the end of an era for Americans — and for them.
Regis, who was one of David Letterman’s most frequent guests, was one of the first to appear on the show after 9/11. The pair brought warmth and humor to the screen during a time when everybody needed it.
After Regis passed, his pal Letterman tweeted: “Regis is in the same category as Carson. Superlative. He was on our show a million times, always the best guest we ever had, charming, lovable and could take a punch. When he retired I lost interest in television. I love him.”
We know so many people felt the same way. Our thoughts go out to Regis’s family and all who loved him.