After five decades on live television, Regis Philbin has become the entertainment equivalent of comfort food.
Welcome in living rooms across the country in a way that viewers” own extended families could only hope to be, Philbin, 80, is leaving his post at Live! with Regis and Kelly Friday. But his tenure and pop culture influence go far beyond the standard “top moments” recognition.
Instead, PEOPLE.com compiled the Top 5 countdown of reasons we”ll miss seeing “Reege” on TV each weekday morning.
5. He”s a Good Sport
A die-hard Yankees lover and Fighting Irish fanatic, Philbin has racked up enough material for his very own sports-centric highlights reel, where he takes on everyone from a cup-stacking champion to a sumo wrestler.
4. He”s Interviewed Celebrities from A to Z
From Angelina Jolie to Zac Efron, Philbin has chatted up them all. But he”s hardly limited to movie stars: politicians, athlete, broadcasters and a slew of regular folks have graced the Live set, too. Regis also gotten to meet some future A-listers before they really hit the big time. Take “this brand new, red hot star, Britney Spears,” whom he introduced on air in 1999. “Look at little Britney,” he said. “How cute! Nice to meet you, finally.” Check out the host”s chat with the fresh-faced Spears here.
3. He”s Great with (Kelly”s) Kids
Some of the funniest – and sweetest – moments came when Regis traded VIP guests for his co-host”s little ones: Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuleos”s children Michael, Lola and Joaquin. Regis has read to them, baked cookies with them and, despite once dropping baby Joaquin on his head, kept them happy and healthy to one day share stories of their famous “Uncle Regis.”
2. He”s Technologically Challenged
Regis”s staunch aversion to technology is easily one of his most charming qualities. Ever a proponent of freedom from gadgets, the traditional host has provided tons of laughs with his distaste for computers, cell phones and the like. But earlier this year, he decided to get onboard with what he calls “The Tweeter” and got a private lesson in how to use Twitter with his computer mouse in hand. Literally in hand – he didn”t seem to realize that the mouse stays on the desk.
1. He”s a Real Original
Cheers, Regis – TV won”t be the same without you.