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Regis Philbin: The goodbye, Part 1

Longtime talk show host Regis Philbin gestures during

Longtime talk show host Regis Philbin gestures during a broadcast of "Live! with Regis and Kelly," in Manhattan. He is leaving the show Friday. (Oct. 28, 2011) Credit: AP

Regis Philbin - heretofore referred to as "The King" or maybe just "Reeg" - is leaving Friday, and attention must be paid. He's a small-screen classic, who may be the best ever at what he continues to do each and every day - talk to the camera as naturally as if he were taking a breath. He's a marvel of endurance and longevity, and unfailing good humor and genial bonhomie, and - by heavens - TV will be much lousier without him.

I suspect he'll be back on screen, but we'll have to make do without the King for a brief while. So, to honor this remarkable career, let us begin with a look back. I offer today this nice clip - one of the few I can find - of Reeg's early days on "The Joey Bishop Show" (1967-69.) This was a "formative" - to use a word the King would never use - experience insofar as it was one of those career-defining failures until such time as Reeg decided it would not be. Reeg walked off the set once, infuriated that everyone blamed him for the show's failure, and then in the last edition, Joey Bishop (who died in 2007) walked off. 

  Take a look at this chestnut...

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