It is not very common when celebrities in their 70s or 80s can appeal to viewers from various generations.
Clint Eastwood, Sean Connery, Carol Burnett, Bob Barker and of course Betty White -- who turned 89 Monday -- come to mind as exceptions.
Their resumés vary greatly with some more active and visible than others.
Then there's Regis Philbin, who has never seemed to miss a beat. The co-star of "Live With Regis and Kelly," who turns 80 this August, has announced he will be retiring from the show this year, perhaps around the same time of his birthday.
Philbin bounced around from show to show and network to network until he found his niche in morning television, first in Los Angeles, then in New York. He joined forces with Kathie Lee Johnson -- who became Kathie Lee Gifford a year later -- in 1985, leading up to national syndiction in 1988.
When Gifford stepped down in 2000, many people -- myself included -- wondered how the show would continue without her. The two had meshed well over the previous 15 years, which was especially apparent during "host chat."
It seemed like the critics just got louder when Kelly Ripa, of "All My Children" fame, won a tryout to take her place. I for one was skeptical she'd make it a year, let alone go for 10 years and outlast Philbin.
And now, she'll be left to carry the flame without him. It will be like "American Idol" without Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul or "The Office" without Steve Carell as Michael Scott. So far, "American Idol" has trudged, and maybe even improved, on with Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, while the fate of "The Office is unknown."
Of course, those aren't fair comparisons because, even combined, they fall short of the long-tenured "Live" show.
Regardless of what happens to the show, I wish Philbin and Ripa the best. I'm sure good ol' Regis will stay just as busy as he wants to be, either with a game show, talk show or cameo appearances. Ripa is spunky enough that she will probably be able to command ratings on the show until she decides she wants to do something else. They both have bright, yet very different, futures ahead of them, I'm sure.
I say that with confidence despite Philbin's age because he clearly still has enough energy to follow White's model of being a successful and sought-after celebrity well past the age of 80.
So here are a couple questions:
Who is your favorite "senior" celebrity? (Go ahead and expand the age range into the 60s if you want.)
Did you have a favorite show that was ruined by a replacement? (Mine was "The Price is Right" before Drew Carey took over for Barker.)
Or, was there a replacement that you thought was better than the original?
I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts.