Regis Philbin dishes on his Irish roots, Bing Crosby and Notre Dame
But the Irish side of young Regis, who was named after father’s alma mater Regis High School in the city, wasn’t totally overwhelmed by the Italian.
“Oh, no,” he says. “I marched in every one of the St. Patrick’s Day parades when I went to Cardinal Hayes High School. It’s a really great parade!
“Then I went to Notre Dame, home of the Fighting Irish, and that gave me a little more stature as an Irishman.”
How did a kid from a close-knit family who had never left New York before wind up all the way in South Bend, Indiana to attend one of the most revered Irish institutions in the world?
As Philbin tells it, his father was in the Marine Corps and served during World War II in the Pacific. One of his fellow Marines was a guy called Moose Krause, an all-American football player who played for the famous coach Knute Rockne at Notre Dame.
“At night, Moose would stand in front of the bonfires that these officers had where they would have dinner, and he would regale them with stories of Notre Dame and the Fighting Irish and the Four Horseman,” says Philbin.
“My father was enchanted. Krause was a great motivational speaker. So when it came time for me to go to college there was no question. My father called Moose, and Moose called Father Thornton, who was in charge of registration, and before I knew it I was going to Notre Dame.”
Once a Notre Damer, always a Notre Damer, and that certainly holds true for Philbin, who graduated in 1953 with a degree in sociology.
“It becomes part of your life forever,” Philbin says. “There’s no getting around it. So I’ve loved being part of it all these years. And, of course, I’ve died with the football team.”
Ah, yes, the football team, the pride and joy of Notre Dame. It would just help if they could win a few more games, the beleaguered fan Philbin says.
“The new coach Brian Kelly certainly has the right name, doesn’t he? But I’ve given up . . . they keep saying that this is the guy who’s gonna save it. But they’ve got to show it to me now.”
Philbin has traveled to Ireland, and brought his morning show over there in the 1980s to film at the Philbin family homestead in Co. Mayo.
“We took a crew over to seek out my great-great grandfather’s home,” Philbin recalled. “We went over there and we got to the priest in the town and he directed us right to the location. It was just a foundation of where the house was.
“So I said, let’s have a party for whatever Philbins were left here in town. Well, it got around and the whole town came running! It was a memorable trip for us.”
The show will naturally have a St. Patrick’s flavor on March 17, with Celtic Woman among the guests. Philbin says he’s a big fan of this year’s grand marshal, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
“He’s just a great guy. I took him to Notre Dame last season and he loved the campus,” Philbin says.
- Gay wedding cakes latest target of anti-gay...
- Racist incidents in Ireland up by 85 percent...
- A Magdalene Laundry US adoptee who holds...
- An open letter in strong defence of capitalism.
- Irish radio presenter suspended after anti-Isra
- Nelson Mandela was against IRA decommissioning.
- Baby dies in horror birth at Belfast hospital...
- Gay teacher fired from Catholic school after...
- Sarah Palin is saving Christmas
- Families as well as Catholic Church and governm