Inside Meredith Vieira And Regis Philbin's Relationship

Journalist, talk show host, and game show host Meredith Vieira has been a staple on American television through much of the 21st century. 

Meanwhile, talk show host and all-around entertainer Regis Philbin spent decades in both the 20th and 21st centuries making people laugh in the morning and enjoy their evenings with his nightclub act — and he even made people millionaires in primetime.

Vieira became a household name as co-host of the ABC daytime talk show "The View" from 1997 to 2006 before making the leap to NBC to co-anchor the "Today" show from 2005 to 2011. She even had a stint with her own talk show, "The Meredith Vieira Show," from 2014 to 2016 (via Britannica). 

It's what she did in between talk show stints that gave her something in common with the late Philbin — while also giving the pair a close relationship. Vieira also had the ability to help make people millionaires just like Philbin.

Regis Philbin brought Who Wants to Be A Millionaire? to life

Before Regis Philbin ever asked anyone if that was their final answer, he was just a boy from the Bronx who wanted to be on television and entertain. He found a way to do it with his wit and humor after moving out to Los Angeles as a Notre Dame graduate. 

He got jobs at radio stations that eventually allowed him on-air and soon landed the sidekick role on the late-night talkfest "The Joey Bishop Show." That led him to host his own Emmy-winning Los Angeles talk show, "The Regis Philbin Show," according to Biography.

By the 1980s, Philbin had taken his act back to his native New York to host the local ABC affiliate's "The Morning Show," which eventually morphed into the nationally syndicated "Live With Regis and Kathie Lee" and then "Live With Regis and Kelly" after Kathie Lee Gifford left the show and Kelly Ripa took over co-hosting duties. 

By 1999, Philbin also landed the hosting position on a new game show, "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?" taking his career to new heights.

Meredith Vieira became Who Wants to Be A Millionaire? host

After Regis Philbin left his hosting duties at "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?" behind, Meredith Vieira took over his role and hosted the game show in syndication from 2002 to 2013, becoming more a face of the show than Philbin had as she stuck around much longer and could be seen all over TV on morning talk shows, too. 

Vieira won Daytime Emmy Awards for her work on the popular game show in 2005 and 2009 but ultimately gave up her hosting spot in 2013. Still, she didn't leave game shows behind forever, as she went on to host 2018's "25 Words Or Less" (via Britannica).

It's when she took over the "Millionaire" hosting duties that she met Philbin. He was the outgoing host and took the time to show her the ropes and make sure he was leaving the game show he helped create in capable hands. Vieira never forgot his kindness during that time in their lives.

Meredith Vieira remembers her old friend Regis Philbin

Sadly, Regis Philbin passed away of natural causes on July 24, 2020, at nearly 90 years old. Meredith Vieira took his death hard and had nothing but kind and glowing things to say about her friend at the time.

"Well the obvious that everyone will miss is he was the constant entertainer," Vieira told People. "He's in a league by himself or with just a handful of folks through the years. He was so good at conversation, so good at listening and such a great listener."

She also revealed that Philbin was there for her when it came time to launch her own talk show and even offered her advice and help.

"It's really hard to launch a talk show, really, really hard — and hard to get people to come on. Is it going to be good, is it not? Nobody wants to be the one to step into the pool first," Vieira said. "Regis was one of the first people who called me and said 'What do you need? I'm there.'" 

She continued: "[He] didn't have to do that. He did it because I think he knew what it was like. He wanted to show his support. That's who he was and I will miss that a lot. There are a lot of great people in this industry but there are a lot that, like in anything, maybe don't wish you well. Regis wished everybody well."