“He turned every little daily annoyance and happiness into a story, and he shared all those little stories with people in a joyful and conversational way," Regis Philbin's wife and daughters tell PEOPLE

By Emily Strohm
July 29, 2020 09:00 AM
Advertisement

Since the world learned of Regis Philbin’s death, friends and fans have showed an outpouring of love for the beloved TV icon. Now, his wife of 50 years and the couple’s children are opening up about what made the longtime host so incredibly special.

“He let everyone into his life,” Joy Philbin and their daughters Jennifer and Joanna tell PEOPLE in an exclusive statement. “He turned every little daily annoyance and happiness into a story, and he shared all those little stories with people in a joyful and conversational way. It made his audience feel like they were right alongside him — because they were.”

Philbin died July 24 of heart disease in Greenwich, Connecticut. He was 88.

  • For more on Regis Philbin, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
Regis Philbin and wife Joy in 2006
Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic

"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,” the Philbin family said in a previous statement. “We thank his fans and admirers for their incredible support over his 60-year career and ask for privacy as we mourn his loss.”

Regis Philbin
Mitch Haaseth via Getty Images

Philbin’s incredible career spanned more than five decades and he holds the Guinness World Record for most hours on U.S. television. But when asked what his most memorable moment was, Philbin always answered the same way.

Regis Philbin with his family in 1987
Ron Galella/Getty

“The one that he always felt made his career was when he was Joey Bishop's sidekick, on The Joey Bishop Show,” says the Philbin family. “Regis worshiped Bing Crosby, and one day when Bing was the guest, Joey told Bing that Regis was a huge fan and goaded Regis into singing something. Regis sang 'Pennies From Heaven' right to Bing, and it helped get him his first recording contract.”

His longtime Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee co-host and friend Kathie Lee Gifford says Philbin was one of a kind. “There has never been anyone like him. And there never will be.”