Television host Regis Philbin was buried on Wednesday at the University of Notre Dame’s Cedar Grove Cemetery after a private service at the school’s Basilica of the Sacred Heart.
The TV host graduated from the northern Indiana Catholic school in 1953, and was an enthusiastic alum who often returned to the South Bend campus for football games, pep rallies, banquets, concerts and other events, the South Bend Tribune reported. He donated over $2.5 million to the university beginning in 2001.
“The Philbin family wanted to bring Regis back to the place he loved so much for a private funeral and burial. That occurred on Wednesday, and he is now resting in peace at Notre Dame,” school spokesman Dennis Brown said in an email to the AP.
School president the Rev. John Jenkins praised Philbin for his commitment to the school in a statement this week, saying, “Regis regaled millions on air through the years, oftentimes sharing a passionate love for his alma mater with viewers.”
Philbin died of a heart attack on July 24 at his home in Connecticut. He was 88, and a month shy of his 89th birthday. Born in the Bronx to an Irish-American father, Frank, who served as a Marine in the Pacific, and a mother, Florence (née Boscia), who was of Arbëreshë heritage, Philbin attended Our Lady of Solace grammar school and graduated from Cardinal Hayes High School before attending the University of Notre Dame.
Philbin got his start in broadcasting in California in 1967. For a time, he was best known as Joey Bishop’s sidekick on the “Joey Bishop Show,” but Regis quickly made a name for himself.
He returned to New York in 1982 and began working on “The Morning Show.” The show took off, Kathy Lee Giffords became the co-host in 1985, and it was nationally syndicated in 1988. Giffords left in 2000 and in 2001 was replaced by Kelly Ripa. The pair co-hosted the show for many years, and Ripa took over as host when Philbin retired at the end of the 2010-11 season, after almost 30 years in that time slot on morning television.
“I think my biggest takeaway from the 11 years that I shared with him was that you have to be yourself,” Ripa said. “You cannot be one person on camera and a different person once the light goes off or the audience is gone.”
In addition to his years on “Live with Regis and Kelly,” Philbin was the host of the game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” on which he made the phrase “Is that your final answer?” iconic.
Philbin held the Guinness World Record for the most time spent in front of a television camera. He was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame as well as the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame in 2006.
Irish America was twice been featured on Regis’s show, and he was very supportive of the magazine through the years. We will miss you, Regis.