Jimmy Kimmel Honors Regis Philbin in Touching Who Wants to Be a Millionaire Tribute

Regis Philbin served as the original host of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire

Ahead of Sunday’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire season premiere, the show is paying tribute to original host Regis Philbin.

Philbin, who died in July at the age of 88, served as the game show’s host from 1999 to 2002 and later helmed the show for special events. In January, Jimmy Kimmel was announced as the new host. Between Philbin and Kimmel, Meredith Viera, Terry Crews, and several others stepped in to lead the show.

In a video tribute made for the upcoming season, Kimmel reflects on when Philbin visited the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire set on his first day of filming.

"Probably the most significant thing that happened when I hosted the first season is Regis came to the set the first day," Kimmel, 52, said in the clip, which included footage from the visit.

"The king has returned!" the late-night host exclaimed to Philbin on set. "The return of the king."

"You built this house Regis, no one will ever be better at doing this than you. No one, never and I’m not just being false humble by saying that — it's true," he added. "You’re the best. That's why people love this show. It's a great game, but Regis is the reason."

Jimmy Kimmel; Regis Philbin
Jimmy Kimmel and Regis Philbin. Richard Cartwright/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

"It was great to see him and it was exciting to just have him there because I'm hosting this show, but this is his show," Kimmel recalled in the video.

Regis Philbin
Regis Philbin on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Mitch Haaseth via Getty Images

Kimmel previously paid tribute to the legendary TV personality shortly after news of his death broke.

"Regis was a great broadcaster, a good friend and a tremendous amount of fun," he wrote on Twitter at the time. "He leaves behind a beautiful family and a TV legacy that will likely go unmatched. Regis, I hope our friend [Don] Rickles met you at the pearly gates with open arms and a slew of the insults you loved so much."

Philbin died of natural causes. He is survived by daughters J.J. Philbin and Joanna Philbin, whom he shared with his wife of 50 years, Joy Philbin. He was also father to daughter Amy Philbin, whom he shared with his first wife Catherine Faylen. Philbin and Faylen had another child, son Daniel Philbin, who died in 2014.

The new season of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire premieres Sunday, Oct. 18 at 9 p.m. EST on ABC.

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