Deceased US gameshow star was a keen supporter of Catholic education

Deceased US gameshow star was a keen supporter of Catholic education Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Spike TV

US gameshow and talkshow host Regis Francis Xavier Philbin, who has died at the age of 88, has been praised as a longtime proponent and supporter of Catholic schools.

“I think it made a great difference. Solidified me….taught me an awful lot. Everything that I am right now I attribute to” Catholic education, Philbin said in a 2009 interview.

What made a difference at Catholic schools, he told reporters in numerous interviews, was formation in virtue, and in faith. Before joining the Navy, and eventually making his way to Hollywood, Mr Philbin attended the University of Notre Dame, and before that the Catholic schools in the Bronx, where he grew up.

Mr Philbin was named in part for Jesuit missionary St Francis Xavier. But his unusual first name came from Regis Catholic High School in New York.

“In the 1920s, my father was asked to leave Regis High School in Manhattan during his sophomore year. It was a Catholic school, and he had gotten into a fight with a priest or a brother. Years later, he was so sorry about what had happened that he and my mother named me Regis when I was born,” he told The Wall Street Journal in 2016.

Mr Philbin was an altar boy while attending his parish elementary school, and as a child had dreams of becoming a singer. He went to Notre Dame at his father’s urging, after graduating from New York’s Cardinal Hayes High School in 1949.

After achieving success on television, Philbin became a regular benefactor to the Catholic schools in which he was educated, especially his high school.

The host gave supported students with scholarships to Cardinal Hayes High School on an annual basis, and in 2000 gave the school $500,000 (€426,000) for an auditorium renovation.