Regardless of the global pandemic sweeping across the globe, this year has not been kind to Hollywood. Among several celebrities and other prominent people, Tinsel Town lost another two great personalities over the weekend.
Regis Philbin (1931 – 2020)
Born Regis Francis Xavier Philbin in 1931, he will be best remembered as a legendary broadcaster and host of the long-running ‘Live with Regis and Kelly’ talk show - a show he started with Kathie Lee Gifford in 1988. Known in the industry as “the hardest working man in show business” the Guinness World Record for the most hours on U.S. television was awarded to him in 2006.
Philbin started his foray into the entertainment business as a pageboy way back in 1955 on The Tonight Show. Doing a variety of odd jobs here and there, he got his talk show host break with The Regis Philbin Show in 1961 on KOGO-TV in San Diego. His first television appearance as a talk show host came three years later when he took over The Steve Allen Show. That adventure didn’t last too long, but it inspired Philbin to pursue a permanent career in showbiz.
That definitely paid off, as he had been nominated for 37 Daytime Emmy Awards and won six. In 2008 he received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award, and two years prior got inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame, as well as the Television Academy Hall of Fame.
Tributes to Philbin poured in from across the world, with Ryan Seacrest saying: “A legend on television. A best friend to so many of us who didn’t even know him, across the country.”
Kelly Ripa, who co-hosted with Philbin for 11 years, said: “As people get older, you always know that certain things are inevitable, and passing away is one of those things, but Regis is one of the people that we all believed, I think, would somehow figure out a way around the inevitable. It was not in the cards.”
Talk show host David Letterman wrote on Twitter: “Regis is in the same category as Carson. Superlative. He was on our show a million times, always the best guest we ever had, charming, lovable and could take a punch. When he retired I lost interest in television. I love him.”
Ellen DeGeneres also paid tribute to Philbin, saying: “Regis Philbin spent more time on television than almost anyone. And we were all better for it. Sending love to his family and his fans.”
Actress Reese Witherspoon also took to Twitter to remember him, saying that she felt “lucky to have been interviewed by him.”
Olivia de Havilland (1916 – 2020)
The last icon of Hollywood's Golden Age, Dame Olivia Mary de Havilland DBE was born in 1916 in Tokyo, Japan. Through her illustrious career, she will be best remembered as portraying the role of Melanie in ‘Gone with the Wind’. She was the last living star of the critically acclaimed 1939 film.
At 104 years old, the five-time Oscar nominee (of which she won two for best Actress), passed away “peacefully” in her sleep at her home in Paris, France.
De Havilland managed to be cast as Melanie in ‘Gone with the Wind’ after she was spotted by agents a local stage production of A Midsummer Night's Dream when she was only 17.
With a filmography that spans from 1935 to 1988 with 49 feature films, de Havilland was also instrumental in the way Hollywood operates to this day. In 1943 she took Warner Bros. to court over its suspension clauses – and won. The victory paved the way for the ‘De Havilland Law’ to be enacted, which prevented film studios from forcing actors to work after their contracts expired.
Suicide Squad actor Jared Leto and his band Thirty Seconds to Mars said that the actress’ ‘De Havilland Law’ managed to help them get out of a contract with a record label.
“Olivia made a powerful impact in my life and I had the pleasure to spend some time with her in Paris. I thanked her for her bravery and shared how her choices affected me and my brother,” he wrote on Twitter.
In 2017 Queen Elizabeth awarded the actress with the coveted Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
“’To Each His Own’, ‘The Heiress’, ‘Gone with the Wind’ and so many others. A two-time Best Actress Oscar winner, Olivia de Havilland was a mainstay of Hollywood’s Golden Age and an immeasurable talent. Here's to a true legend of our industry,” Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences wrote on Twitter.
Veteran actress Mia Farrow took to Twitter to pay tribute to de Havilland. “She knew how to live & was loved by all especially by her niece, my childhood friend Deborah. In films she was unfailingly wonderful & an unforgettable ‘Melanie’ in GWTW.”
‘Baby Driver’ director Edgar Wright wrote on Twitter: “At what age does it change from 'gone to soon' to 'they had a great run'? Well, 104 is a hell of a run and here are just a few of my favourite Olivia De Havilland films. There are many, many more to discover and love. RIP.”
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