Regis Philbin's Most Memorable Cameos and TV Moments

Throughout his career, Regis Philbin was one of the nation’s most beloved personalities. He enjoyed a long career in front of the camera, entertaining America as a host, a talk show guest, and often by playing fictionalized versions of himself in TV shows and movies. His charming smile and quick wit were always on display, and he had no problem poking a bit of fun at his own public persona. In celebration of the late star’s life and legacy, we’re taking a look back at his some of his best cameos and most memorable TV moments.

How I Met Your Mother

In this episode of the beloved sitcom, Philbin plays himself — a menacing, super-strong version of himself who is obsessed with finding the location of a hamburger joint he ate at once and forgot the location of. This role allowed Philbin to play a hilarious and bizarrely threatening character, instead of the affable daytime talk show host so many remember him as.
 

Single Parents

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In this episode of Single Parents, Will (Taran Killam) is in the hospital as his wife is giving birth, and he sees Philbin walking down the hallway, and gets starstruck. He’s so stunned and obsessed with the host, he ends up missing the birth of his child. In a behind-the-scenes featurette, Killam recalled how fun it was to have Philbin on set, sharing, “You can kind of feel that everybody is kind of giddy having him here on set. It’s exciting.”
 

The Late Show With David Letterman (After 9/11)

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When The Late Show with David Letterman returned to the air for the first time, six days after the September 11 terrorist attacks, Philbin — who was one of the show’s favorite and most frequent guests — was the first guest to take a seat next to Letterman during the delicate and emotionally complex episode. He helped ground the show and bring a humor and comforting warmth that helped Letterman get America laughing again.
 

The Great Buck Howard

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Philbin’s appearance in this 2008 comedy is brief, but it was a great example of the host recreating the energy he brought to the Live! franchise for years. He introduces the eponymous magician (played by John Malkovich) before also introducing a singing George Takei, and is wonderfully charming and goofy throughout it all.
 

Who Wants to be a Millionaire (First Winner)

Philbin was the first and most well-remembered host of the ABC trivia game show, and was there to award the first-ever $1 million prize to a contestant named John Carpenter in 1999. Every moment from this game — from Philbin’s banter to Carpenter’s nerves of steel — proves just how great a host Philbin was under any circumstances, and it’s still one of the greatest game show moments of all time.
 

Kung Fu: The Legend Continues

https://youtube.com/watch?v=HyJcNDGhkfA%3Ffeature%3Doembed

Philbin appeared in one episode of this mid-’90s remake of the classic TV show Kung Fu, and he once again played a fictionalized version of himself. In one scene that is particularly memorable, Philbin is meeting with his agents at a restaurant when a madman with a gun walks in looking to shoot him, and his agents force him to hide under the table, despite his protests that he could disarm the would-be assassin.
 

Regis With Dana Carvey

https://youtube.com/watch?v=CUyXiX37dCY%3Ffeature%3Doembed

For a week in January 2017, Philbin served as a guest co-host on Hallmark Channel’s daytime talk show Home & Family. Toward the end of his run, he and his fellow hosts sat down with comedian Dana Carvey, who explained how Philbin helped him come up with his Donald Trump impression. “I was on stage the other night doing stand-up, and I started to do Trump,” Carvey recounted to Philbin, his wife, Joy, and Home & Family co-hosts Mark Steines and Debbie Matenopoulos. “And I figured out that the way I got Trump was I started with you, then I added [Marlon] Brando, and that gave me Trump.”
 

Live With Regis and Kathie Lee (Last Episode)

https://youtube.com/watch?v=QKkBBedDnnM%3Ffeature%3Doembed

While Philbin would stay on Live, and go on to co-host with Kelly Ripa, for many fans it felt like the real end of an era when Kathie Lee Gifford exited the series. The two had undeniable chemistry and their banter and friendship felt like the foundation of the show itself. So, for their final episode, they revisited their time together and it all around felt like a truly unique watershed moment in daytime talk show history.
 

Little Nicky

https://youtube.com/watch?v=bUURpiVatAo%3Ffeature%3Doembed

Philbin’s appearance in this dark and bizarre Adam Sandler comedy is very brief, but sticks in your mind. In the movie, he once again plays himself as a daytime talk show host, but he tells a story — in his trademark friendly, man-of-the-people way — about getting cut off in traffic and gleefully beating the man who cut him off. It’s hilariously against type for Philbin’s public image, and it’s why it’s such a gloriously weird and wonderful cameo.

For more on the celebrated host’s life and legacy, see the video below!

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