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NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 09: Regis Philbin poses at the Opening Night Arrivals for "Colin Quinn Long Story Short" on Broadway at The Helen Hayes Theater on November 9, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
Regis Philbin, the ubiquitous ABC morning host who launched his first talk show in San Diego, is retiring.
The 79-year-old Philbin, who co-hosts the network's "Live! with Regis and Kelly," made the announcement this morning on the show that bears his name.
"This will be my last year on this show," Philbin said. "It's been a long time, it's been 28 years since I've been here. And it was the biggest thrill of my life.
"There is a time that everything must come to an end for certain people on camera, especially certain old people," he joked.
The New York-born host, who came to national prominence in 1964 in a short stint replacing Steve Allen as host of the "Tonight Show," later caught on as Joey Bishop's sidekick on "The Joey Bishop Show."
His first show "The Regis Philbin Show" aired on KGTV in San Diego in the 1960s.
While Philbin is most readily associated with the morning show, he has hosted numerous specials and game shows through the years. He was the original host of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," which was a ratings success when it debuted in 1999 and made "Is that your final answer?" a household refrain.
Philbin was also the first host of NBC's "America's Got Talent," in 2006, doing double duty and flying back and forth between the coasts.
Philbin plans to step down at the end of the summer or in the fall. Co-host Kelly Ripa, whose role often involved reining in or expressing shock at the over-bubbly septuagenarian, was emotional after Philbin's announcement.
"I think I can only speak for America and all of us here when I say it has been a pleasure and a privilege and a dream come true," Ripa said. "And I wish I could do something to change your mind."