Regis Philbin Announces His Retirement on 'Live'

Regis Philbin. (Reuters)

Regis Philbin. (Reuters)

Morning show lifer Regis Philbin will soon be able to sleep in.

Philbin announced he was retiring from his long-running show on Tuesday morning's "Live With Regis and Kelly." 

Philbin, 79, has hosted "Live" for more than a quarter century, most recently with Kelly Ripa, and previously with Kathie Lee Gifford.

Philbin said he would step down at the end of the summer or early fall of 2011, but didn't specify a departure date.

POLL: Can they replace Regis on 'Live'?

"I don't want to alarm anybody," Philbin said. "This will be my last year on the show."

"It's been a long time. It's been 28 years," he continued, "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."

"There is a time that everything must come to an end for certain people on camera -- especially certain old people!" he cracked.

Philbin started hosting talk shows in 1962 when he filled in for Steve Allen on the "Tonight Show." The short-lived "That Regis Philbin Show" followed in 1964, and his long list of hosting gigs was off and running. 

Over a dozen shows later, Philbin was paired with the then Kathie Lee Johnson, and the morning talk show for which he would become most famous was born. The syndicated "Live With Regis and Kathie Lee" was a smash hit, and continued its popularity after Kathie Lee left the show and was replaced with soap opera veteran Kelly Ripa.

"I think I can only speak for America and all of us here when I say it has been a pleasure and a privilege and a dream come true," co-host Ripa responded Tuesday morning. "And I wish I could do something to make you change your mind."

"Now wait a minute," Philbin said, smiling.

There's no word yet whether Philbin will be replaced on "Live." 

Talk about tough shoes to fill.