Simon Cowell tributes Regis Philbin, first America’s Got Talent host

Pompeyo Family DogsDid you forget that Regis Philbin was the original host of America’s Got TalentIt’s understandable if you did, given that there have been so many hosts over the years and he only took on the gig for the very first year. (He was eventually replaced by Jerry Springer — Nick Cannon, Tyra Banks, and now Terry Crews have also hosted the show.)

Regis is partly responsible for the series to get off the ground, and the show’s executive producer in Simon Cowell is grateful for him immensely. Speaking on the subject to People Magazine, here is some of what the reality-TV guru had to say:

“What I learned about him was that he was an absolute total gentleman. Off-camera or on-camera, he always made you feel welcome. He really looked after you as a guest on his show. He was so fun and such a professional … When we had the opportunity to work with when we launched AGT, he was a big reason why we managed to get the show off the ground in the first place. The fact that he took a chance on something brand new, I said to him afterward, ‘I’ll always remember what you did for us.'”

Simon was not a judge on the first season, but he was very much involved in the development behind the scenes. He eventually became an onscreen presence after the departure of Howard Stern. Regis was a consummate entertainer, and there are thousands of people all over the world who were impacted by him. Maybe they were a former guest on one of his shows, or maybe they were a contestant on Who Wants to be a Millionaire?. Maybe they just watched him on television every day.

Over the weekend, David Letterman paid tribute himself to Philbin with a touching note, and you can read more about that over here. The two took part in what may very well be some of the greatest interviews in recent reality TV history.

Regis will be missed greatly as entertainment icon for generations. Our thoughts continue to go out to his friends and loved ones. (Photo: NBC.)

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