NEW YORK — Regis Philbin has lived a lifetime on television. Logging 15,188 hours on the tube has yielded him fame, fortune — and now a place in the record books.
At the end of Friday’s telecast of “Live With Regis and Kelly,” a representative of Guinness World Records gave Philbin a plaque certifying him as the person with the most hours on TV.
The previous record-holder was Hugh Downs with 10,511 hours.
“Now it’s all a big blur,” Philbin told The Associated Press Thursday as he looked back on his career that began as a San Diego news anchor in 1958. “When you look back that’s a lot of hours on TV.”
With now officially the longest resume in television, Philbin wonders, “You’d think it might make me better, but I don’t know.”
Philbin, who will turn 73 next week, has hosted the syndicated “Live” in all 16 of its seasons — now with Kelly Ripa. In his 46-year career, he’s hosted numerous news and entertainment shows, as well as the ABC game show “Who Wants to Be a Super Millionaire.”
Of all the experiences, Philbin most remembers the interviews of other talk-show hosts — people, he says, “that do what I do. People like Jack Paar, Steve Allen, Merv Griffin, Johnny Carson, David Letterman that know what being a talk-show host is about.”
Clearly all the years on TV aren’t a total blur — one evening broadcast from the 1950s still sticks in his memory. While doing the evening news in San Diego, Philbin and his fellow broadcasters were laughing at “The Big Party,” which preceded the broadcast. When 11 p.m. came, Philbin was unable to control his still bubbling laugh as he was thrust into reading the headlines of the day, which began with a train wreck in the Italian Alps that killed 117.
“That is the nightmare that I remember,” he says with a grimace.
Meanwhile, Philbin will be the “roastmaster” at the New York Friars Club’s Oct. 15 roast of real estate mogul Donald Trump, now a TV star with his hit reality show “The Apprentice.”
“Given the size of Trump’s ego, we will be lucky to be done by Christmas,” said Friars Club dean Freddie Roman.
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