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Is Regis Philbin Dying?

Photo: Instagram
Is Regis Philbin Dying?

Kathie Lee Gifford said farewell to the Today Show after 11 years on April 8, 2019. Since 2008, she co-hosted the Today Show’s fourth hour with Hoda Kotb. She earned her first Daytime Emmy in 2010 from the show. Gifford has been a staple of American television since long before her time on Today. She was the co-host of the talk show Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee for 15 years, from 1985 to 2000.

Gifford’s farewell bash was filled with fun and games: John Cena hosted a trivia game, in which Hoda and Kathie Lee guessed things such as how many glasses of wine the women had enjoyed on the show.

It was also filled with nostalgia and tears as Gifford passed the baton onto Jenna Bush Hager. The segment was not without another familiar face of Gifford’s hosting past. Regis Philbin tuned in with a pre-recorded video. He mentioned that his favorite years on television were those he spent co-hosting with her on Live!

“We stayed friends through the entire game, and it was a lot of fun,” he’s heard saying in a voiceover. He says he knows she’s going to be a “great success” in her career beyond the show working in film—she is “just great.”

After the video rolled, Gifford said that she and Philbin talked on the phone the day before. But why wasn’t Philbin there at her send-off? Below are five details about Philbin’s health, which has suffered in the past, and may be on the decline, according to sources.

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1. He is 87 years old.

Regis Philbin was born on Aug. 25, 1931. His long career began in the 1950s: he started out as a page for the Tonight Show. He’s best known as the host of Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee, which began in 1988, then Live! With Regis and Kelly from 2001 to 2011. He also hosted Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

Philbin holds the Guinness World Record for the most time spent in front of a television camera—it’s no wonder he has been called “the hardest working man in show business.”

Since leaving Live!, Philbin has still been active in television as a host and guest host on various shows, from Piers Morgan Tonight, Fox Sports’ Crowd Goes Wild and The Late Late Show. He has appeared on Today with Kathie Lee and Hoda about once a month since 2015 as Gifford’s guest host on Hoda’s days off.

2. He underwent triple bypass surgery in 2007.

Philbin first experienced chest pain in 1992: he was shooting a commercial on a cruise ship with Gifford in Miami. He learned at the hospital that he had a blocked artery, and immediately had an angioplasty.

Twelve years later, plaque in Philbin’s arteries led to his triple bypass surgery on Mar. 14, 2007. Prior to the surgery, he consulted with David Letterman, who has an emergency quintuple bypass in 2000: Philbin had substituted Letterman on the Late Show with David Letterman. Philbin returned to work shortly after the surgery on Apr. 26.

3. He’s had other surgeries.


In the presence of a legend. #RegisPhilbin

A post shared by Ryan Seacrest (@ryanseacrest) on Jun 15, 2018 at 12:07pm PDT

Since the triple bypass, Philbin has had two surgeries. He had his hip replaced late in 2009, then returned to work a month later in January 2010. In May 2010, he had a blood clot removed from his calf. It was a minor procedure, as he returned to work the next day.

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4. He was involved with the Take Cholesterol to Heart campaign.

In 2017, Philbin decided to take on an issue that was literally close to his heart. Ten years after his triple bypass surgery, he and his wife Joy became the faces of the Take Cholesterol to Heart campaign.

Philbin spoke about his health habits in an interview with AJC in 2017 and offered advice for anyone looking to improve their own health in day-to-day life.

“Whether it’s your heart health and picking the right [medicine] for you, or any other health issues you are facing, it’s so important that people feel comfortable talking to their doctor to ensure they have all the information. You have to be your own best advocate for your health.”

He also explained how his own lifestyle has changed following his health scares, as well as his increasing age.

"Before my experience with heart disease, I didn’t have much discipline when it came to my diet. Since then, I still enjoy foods I’ve always loved, but I mostly stick to chicken and vegetables for weekly dinners. I try to practice a little more moderation. I work out at a gym around three days a week and lift weights to help my strength and muscle tone. I don’t do as much cardio as I should."

Howie Mandel joined the campaign in May 2018 and is now its face.

5. Now, sources say his health is on the decline.

According to RadarOnline.com, the prerecorded message for his former Live! cohost is not what it seemed. He was unable to attend the farewell party due to his declining health in the first place, according to a source.

“They produced a video with him with lots of voiceovers and B-roll. He’s in very, very bad shape,” a source revealed.

Gifford said in the video the two could meet up in Greenwich, Connecticut over the summer. The website’s source, however, is not too confident the reunion will take place. And if it does, it may be a goodbye as well.

“He’s planning on spending this summer in Connecticut — if he is well enough,” the source confirmed. “Friends fear this will be his last summer.”

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Alison Cerri is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture and relationship topics.