By Rafaela Prifti-
“Regis Philbin was class act who brought warmth, humor and wit to audiences for decades, and was a fine representation of both The Bronx residents and the Albanian community.” Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. for DIELLI.
Regis Philbin, American TV personality and icon passed away from natural causes at 88. Quickly after, the family made the announcement, a spokesperson expressed gratitude for the outpouring of love they have received and invited people to make donations to help the needy in his beloved New York.
In paying tribute to him, it behooves our community to honor the Albanian ancestry of Regis Philbin, as the son of Filomena Boscia, and grandson of Nicolamaria Boscia going all the way back to Francesco Boscia born in 1761 in Greci, Avellino, Campania, Italy.
In this article, I have reproduced his mother’s side of the family tree.
Born on August 25, 1931, in the Bronx, Regis Francis Xavier Philbin, attended local schools and graduated from Cardinal Hayes High School. After receiving a sociology major from Notre Dame, Philbin joined the US Navy. In the 50s, Regis started working at local TV stations in California first as a stagehand then a news writer and years later a news anchor in San Diego, before gaining national exposure as a TV host. He moved to New York as a star of local morning television. In 1988 Regis teamed up with co-host Kathy Lee to have a national broadcast of the show. In 2001, Kelly Ripa was announced as the official replacement and went on to co-host the high-ranking program for another decade. Ripa paid tribute to her mentor Regis Philbin on the show by remembering Joy, his wife of 50 years and daughters J.J. and Joanna. His former wife Catherine Faylen, daughter Amy and son Daniel, who died in 2014. The crew also honored Regis as a “national treasure”. As a TV personality, Regis lived a good amount of his life in front of the camera. He was endowed with a gift of a charming storyteller. Philbin shared so much of his experiences, encounters and family stories with worldwide audiences. Most of his guests and people in his circle were aware of his Irish father roots. In fact, he was named after his father’s alma mater, Manhattan’s Regis High School.
Though Philbin had mentioned his Albanian ancestry from his mother’s side, and even pronounced a few Albanian words he learned from her as a child, he brought a complete family genealogy on the set of the show in 2010. His mother, Filomena was born in Manhattan whereas his grandmother Nicolamaria came from Greci, Italy and died in the Bronx in 1934. Holding a family tree poster on the set, an exited Regis Philbin, revealed that his mother’s side were forced to leave the home country, Albania, centuries ago and cross the Adriatic to settle in Italy in a small village called Greci. Through numerous records going back hundreds of years, it has been established that Greci was one of the settlements of the Arberesh community, early Albanian population that was forced out of Albania beginning in the last century of the Ottoman Empire. It is believed that a considerable number of the Arberesh community who have crossed the ocean and numerous families who live in the New York area originate from the same village. One documented example is the family of the former Congressman Joe DioGuardi. In fact, Philbin acknowledged the relation when he presented the genealogy diagram to his guest on the show, Kara DioGuardi, daughter of JoeDioguardi, whom he referred to as “distant cousin”. I was able to reproduce the family origins of Regis Philbin for the readers. *
Regis Philbin had a long and successful careers for decades leaving an indelieable imprint on American culture. He reached the hearts and minds of millions of Americans as host of Morning Shows and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”. He has been honored with Emmy awards and acknowledged by his peers, and received his Hall of Fame induction in 2006.
It is upon us to honor Regis Philbin and his Albanian ancestry.
Regis Philbin – Walk of Fame in the Home Borough of the Bronx
The Bronx Borough President, Ruben Diaz Jr., who has hosted Albania Independence Day last November and has persistently honored the Albanian-American community as well as our historical and cultural personalities at varous events, frequently refers to the Bronx native, Regis Philbin.
“Regis Philbin was not only one the most recognizable media personalities of our time, but he never forgot his roots and was in the first class of inductees honored on the Bronx Walk of Fame in 1997,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. for DIELLI. “Regis Philbin was class act who brought warmth, humor and wit to audiences for decades, and was a fine representation of both The Bronx residents and the Albanian community.”
Regis Philbin Walk of Fame sign is located on the corner of 153st and Grand Concourse, right by his alma mater Cardinal Hayes High School in his home borough of the Bronx.