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San Diego co-workers and friends remember Regis Philbin

Regis Philbin at KOGO TV
Posted at 10:56 PM, Jul 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-26 09:27:52-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - San Diegans are remembering Talk Show Host and Entertainer Regis Philbin after he passed away Friday.

Philbin's first television appearance was on the Regis Philbin Show at ABC 10News. Back then we were called KOGO TV.

"He never forgot where he started in television and that was right here in San Diego and he loved talking about it," Radio Personality and Friend Shotgun Tom Kelly said.

Kelly rescued a couple old photos from the newsroom before they were thrown out depicting Regis' time at ABC 10News. One shows a youthful Philbin standing with the news crew in front of two rows of cars and a KOGO TV van.

Another shows him at the Regis Philbin Show desk.

"I came to Channel 10 in 1960 and I think Regis started in 1961." Former Chief Photographer Lee Louis said he was 19-years-old at the time. He said Philbin seemed like a father figure back then, but he later realized Philbin was only 29.

His most memorable assignment with Philbin was when Jayne Mansfield came to town. He said they "went to the old Lindbergh Field terminal off Pacific Highway before they even built the new terminal... He interviewed Jane Mansfield and as we talked about earlier, somewhere I have a black and white picture of him interviewing Jane Mansfield."

Louis said he didn't realize until he saw Philbin on national television, what an icon he would become.

Philbin's success, according to Kelly, was partially due to advice Philbin received from a San Diego Union Tribune Columnist named Don Freeman.

Kelly said Philbin had just left the Navy and wanted to work in television. He said Philbin loved reading Freeman's articles and mustered up the courage to go meet him and talk about breaking into the business. Kelly said he gave him this advice, "I think you've got a future, the one thing that's going to make you stand out is be yourself. And that's what Regis was, he was always himself. If you met Regis in person, it would be the same way you saw him on television."

That relatable personality drew millions of fans over the years, including Louis.

"I still enjoyed watching Regis and Kelly Live and 'yeah I knew that guy,' I started with him, or he started with me, I don't know which," Louis said smiling.

Kelly said he had the privilege of hosting a Hollywood Media Professionals luncheon last year honoring Philbin's career. He wanted to surprise Philbin and brought out his first photographer. "Regis was overjoyed, it was just wonderful. I mean it was just a great surprise to pull that on a celebrity."

Kelly said he would be missed.

"At least he didn't die of the virus [coronavirus]. It sounds like he went naturally. It sounds like he was home, I'm sure his family was around him. I don't want to think about that as much as the few good memories I had back in the 60s when we worked together." Louis said.