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Regis Philbin announces retirement

After 40 years in the business, ‘Live With Regis and Kelly’ host Regis Philbin is retiring from morning television. The 79-year-old host announced the news on Tuesday’s episode of his hit show, stating that he will leave the program sometime in late summer, although his exact end date has not been specified.

“I don’t want to alarm anybody, but this will be my last year on the show,” he said, igniting a chorus of groans from audience members.

Philbin has helmed different incarnations of ‘Live’ since 1983, when it was called ‘The Morning Show.’ His co-hosts have included Cyndy Garvey, Ann Abernathy, Kathie Lee Gifford and Kelly Ripa.

“It’s been a long time,” he said, “and it was the biggest thrill of my life to come back to New York, where I grew up as a kid watching TV in the early days, you know, never even dreaming that I would one day have the ability, or whatever it takes, to get in front of the camera and talk to it.”

The veteran host then lightened the heavy mood with a bit of his trademark self-deprecating wit. “There is a time that everything must come to an end for certain people on camera – especially certain old people!”

Philbin, who holds a Guinness world record for most hours logged on television, has hosted ‘Live’ for 28 years, the past 10 of which have been co-hosted by Ripa.

“I think I can only speak for America and all of us here,” said Ripa, “when I say it has been a pleasure and a privilege and a dream come true. And I wish I could do something to make you change your mind.”

He began to publicly ponder his retirement options a few years ago, telling reporters, “I do love being off. The years are going by, and I have reached a point in my life when, frankly, most guys my age have been retired for a few years.”

No announcement has been made regarding the show and whether there will be a replacement for Philbin.

The three-time Emmy Award winner has been a fixture on television sets since the 1950s, when he came up working for local stations. His first taste of national exposure came in 1967 when he scored the sidekick role on Joey Bishop’s short-lived late-night show.

After spending many years on the morning television circuit, primarily in Los Angeles, Philbin moved back to New York in 1983 to host ‘The Morning Show.’ Two years into the job, he teamed up with Kathie Lee Johnson, who later married football great Frank Gifford, and their show went nationwide in 1988.

Gifford left in 2000 and a year later soap star Ripa (‘All My Children’) filled the slot. Their show reaches an average of 4 million viewers a day, according to Nielsen statistics.

Aside from daytime TV, Philbin also showed he can handle primetime when 10 years ago he hosted the top-rated game show, ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.’

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