TV legend Regis Philbin was often called "the hardest working man in show business,” and for good reason. After college, Philbin served in the U.S. Navy and got his TV start serving as a lowly page for "The Tonight Show" in the 1950s. For the next six decades, he hosted numerous TV shows with his trademark high energy, pithy one-liners, Bronx accent, genuine niceness, and irreverent ad-libs. Philbin is best known for his work on two different projects: the nationally syndicated morning talk show "Live with Regis and Kathie Lee," (later “Live with Regis and Kelly”) and his primetime work as host of the megahit "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." Throughout his career, Philbin was nominated for 37 Daytime Emmy Awards and won six. In recognition of his many achievements, he was voted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame and the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 2006 — and two years later he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Philbin also holds the distinction of clocking more hours on camera than anyone else in the history TV with 17,000 hours of his life having been recorded on air.
A native New Yorker, Philbin applied to Notre Dame in the late 1940s. At the time, having never stepped foot west of the Hudson River, Notre Dame University was the source of both awe and trepidation for teenage Philbin. As a freshman, he was also treated to some historic levels of school pride, since head coach of the football team Frank Leahy was guiding Notre Dame to its third national title in four years. Philbin himself was no slouch athletically, playing on the Notre Dame tennis squad while he was a student majoring in sociology.
After graduating from Notre Dame in 1953, Philbin remained an enthusiastic supporter of the university, often returning to campus for football games, pep rallies, banquets, concerts, and other events. As a media star, he often used his fame to promote his alma mater, which is why he was considered to be "the face of Notre Dame” on TV for most of his adult life. But Philbin’s backing of Notre Dame did not only come in the form of moral support; it was financial as well. In 2001, he gave $2.75 million to the university to create the Philbin Studio Theatre for performance arts productions. Prior to that gift, in 1999, Philbin had received an Honorary Doctor of Laws in recognition of his previous support and services to the Notre Dame community.
In 2020, a few weeks shy of his 89th birthday, Philbin passed away from natural causes. He was then buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery, which is located on Notre Dame's campus.