As Regis Philbin prepares to sign off this Friday for the last time on Live! with Regis and Kelly, he reflects on his departure with Jerry Seinfeld, who famously decided to walk away from his successful sitcom Seinfeld after nine seasons in 1998 because he wanted to go out while the show was still on top.
In an interview for Newsweek, Seinfeld asks the 80-year-old Philbin how he's managed to keep his broadcasting career going for nearly six decades to become "the most successful television performer in the history of the medium."
"You know, I never knew if I had any talent when I started in this business," Philbin says. "My first job was being a page at The Tonight Show. I saw Jack Paar come out one night and sit on the edge of his desk and talk about what he'd done the night before. I thought, 'I can do that!' I used to do that on a street corner in the Bronx with all my buddies."
Seinfeld tells Philbin he understands exactly what it's like leaving a successful television show and said Philbin is leaving at his "absolute height of power and strength." The talk show host responds: "I feel bittersweet about it. But I'm kind of relieved. It's got to come some time. It's not scary, because God knows we've all made enough money to keep us going. But it's going to be a change."
Philbin tells Seinfeld that he doesn't like change and when asked how he'll deal it, he reverts into interview mode himself and asks Seinfeld what got him through it. "Here’s the thing that enabled me to do it. I knew I was doing the right thing for the audience. I knew that I was now going to seal the end of this gift for them in such a way that they would always have it."
Seinfeld reveals to Philbin that he used to even make fun of Live when it first went on the air, joking. "'What kind of show is this? What are these two people doing? They're denting seat cushions up there.' But you were doing a lot, because we loved having you in our home and we want more." Philbin responds to that by hinting at more to come in his long and illustrious career: "Well, maybe there will be more, we'll find out."