The New York native died on Friday at age 88 of natural causes

By Elizabeth Leonard and Natalie Stone
July 27, 2020 08:04 PM
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Regis Philbin's family is hoping to keep his memory through the spirit of generosity.

Following Philbin's death on Friday, his loved ones are thanking fans for their outpouring of love and asking those who are interested in honoring the late television host to make a donation to the Food Bank for New York City, which provides meals to those in need.

“Regis' family is overwhelmed by the outpouring of love we've received. If you'd like to honor Regis' memory, we kindly ask that you make a donation to http://foodbanknyc.org/, to help people in need in his beloved New York, especially his home borough of The Bronx. Thank you," a family spokesperson says in a statement to PEOPLE.

The legendary TV host died on Friday, July 24 from natural causes. He was 88.

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"We are deeply saddened to share that our beloved Regis Philbin passed away last night of natural causes, one month shy of his 89th birthday," his family shared with PEOPLE in an exclusive statement on Saturday.

"His family and friends are forever grateful for the time we got to spend with him – for his warmth, his legendary sense of humor, and his singular ability to make every day into something worth talking about. We thank his fans and admirers for their incredible support over his 60-year career and ask for privacy as we mourn his loss," the Philbin family said.

In 1988, Philbin began his run as host of Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee alongside Kathie Lee Gifford. After 15 years, Gifford left the ABC show but the pair remained close after her departure.

In 2001, the franchise became Live! with Regis and Kelly, co-starring Kelly Ripa before he left in 2011 after 23 years on-air. (He was replaced by former football player Michael Strahan, who later departed for Good Morning America and was replaced by Ryan Seacrest in 2017.)

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Philbin also served as the original host of the widely popular game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? from 1999 to 2002. In addition, the New York City native's hosting credits include Million Dollar Password, the first season of America’s Got Talent, as well as a reoccurring co-host seat on Rachael Ray.

His accolades include Daytime Emmy Awards for outstanding talk show host for Live! in 2001 and 2011 as well as outstanding game show host for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. He also received a Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2003 and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Daytime Emmy Awards in 2008.

"There are no words to fully express the love I have for my precious friend, Regis. I simply adored him and every day with him was a gift," Gifford wrote Saturday on Instagram of her friend and former co-host.

"We spent 15 years together bantering and bickering and laughing ourselves silly—a tradition and a friendship we shared up to this very day. I smile knowing somewhere in Heaven, at this very moment, he's making someone laugh," Gifford continued. "It brings me great comfort knowing that he had a personal relationship with his Lord that brought him great peace. I send all the love in my heart to Joy, to his children, to the rest of his family and to the innumerable people he touched over his legendary life. There has never been anyone like him. And there never will be."