NEW YORK – Regis Philbin (search) has lived a lifetime on television. Logging 15,188 hours on the tube has yielded the talk show host fame, fortune, and now a place in the record books.
Friday's broadcast of "Live with Regis and Kelly" (search) gives Philbin the Guinness World Record for most hours on camera. The talk show host passes broadcaster Hugh Downs for the record, as calculated by Guinness World Records researcher Stuart Claxton.
"Now it's all a big blur," Philbin told the Associated Press on Thursday as he looked back on his career that began as a San Diego news anchor in 1958. "When you look back that's a lot of hours on TV."
With now officially the longest resume in television, Philbin wonders, "You'd think it might make me better, but I don't know."
Philbin, who will turn 73 next week, has hosted the nationally syndicated "Live" in all 16 of its seasons — now with Kelly Ripa (search), and previously with Kathy Lee Gifford. In his 46 year career he has hosted numerous news and entertainment shows, as well as the hit prime-time ABC game show, "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" (search)
Of all the experiences, Philbin most remembers the interviews of other talk show hosts — people, he says, "that do what I do. People like Jack Paar, Steven Allen, Merv Griffin (search), Johnny Carson (search), David Letterman that know what being a talk show host is about."
Clearly all the years on TV are not a total blur — one evening broadcast from the 1950s still sticks in Philbin's memory. While doing the evening news in San Diego, Philbin and his fellow broadcasters were laughing together at a show that preceded the broadcast called, "The Big Party." When 11:00 p.m. came, Philbin was unable to control his still bubbling laugh as he was thrust into reading the headlines of the day, which began with a train wreck in the Italian Alps that killed 117.
"That is the nightmare that I remember," Philbin says with a grimace.
But the nightmares have been few for the energetic talk show host, whose record of on camera hours will only grow. He currently has two years left on his contract to host "Live."
One untelevised performance Philbin has uncoming is "roastmaster" at the Friar's Club Oct. 15 roast of real estate mogul turned TV star Donald Trump (search). Philbin says he may have to defend his friend from the onslaught of comedians, a suspicion concurred by Friars Club Dean Freddie Roman:
"Given the size of Trump's ego, we will be lucky to be done by Christmas."