The Hosts of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire"

From Regis Philbin to Chris Harrison

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire started out as a breakout 1999 prime-time program, paving the way for lots of other glitzy, large production before its syndication in 2002. The show features a number of contestants answering a series of increasingly difficult questions worth increasingly more money until they answer a final million-dollar question. If they answer correctly, perhaps with the help of one of three lifelines, they will win a check for $1,000,000 — how exciting!

However, the true joy of the show comes from the interaction each of the program's hosts had with its guests. And while WWTBAM has been up and down in popularity since it first made a huge splash, it has seen a number of different hosts along the way who've breathed new life into the 17-year-old show. 

Casual fans of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" can likely name the two most popular hosts of the show, but did you know that there have actually been four hosts so far? Here are all of the personalities who have hosted the show, from first to most recent.

Regis Philbin (1999-2002)

Regis Philbin
Regis Philbin. courtesy Valleycrest Productions Ltd.

"Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" was adapted from a British format of the same name and the original (and arguably best-known) host of the U.S. version was Regis Philbin. Regis was the perfect man for the job, with his wit and ability to really put the contestants in the spotlight while comforting them through the pressures of answering increasingly difficult questions. 

"Millionaire" first aired in prime time on ABC from 1999 through 2002, featuring Regis as the original host. However, in 2002 the show moved to daily syndication with five episodes per week and a new host was named to run the program. 

Meredith Vieira (2002-2013)

Meredith Vieira
Meredith Vieira. courtesy Valleycrest Productions Ltd.

Hot on the heels of Regis' success with the program, Meredith Vieira became the second host of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" in 2002. She wasn't an immediate hit as some viewers had trouble making the adjustment from seeing Regis in this role. Many viewers loved her, however, and she ended up winning two Daytime Emmy Awards for her work on the game show.

Vieira was a ground breaker for women as game show hosts, tackling a serious trivia quizzer with style and warmth. She left the show in 2013 after eleven seasons as host.

Cedric "The Entertainer" Kyles (2013-2014)

Cedric the Entertainer
Cedric the Entertainer. courtesy Valleycrest Productions Ltd.

After Vieira's announcement that she would be leaving the show, speculation ran wild about who would be taking over hosting responsibilities. Many were surprised to learn that the new host for the 2013-14 season would be funnyman Cedric the Entertainer.

Cedric ended up dividing viewers, with many who loved his demeanor and many others who could never get used to his style. At the end of the season, the show announced that it would be moving from New York City to Connecticut. Cedric decided not to make the move with them.

Terry Crews (2014-2015)

wwtbam_terrycrews.jpg
Terry Crews. courtesy Disney-ABC Domestic TV

After all of the speculation that occurred when Vieira left the show, fans didn't have to wait long to discover who would be taking over the show after the departure of Cedric the Entertainer. Only days after his announcement, "Who Wants to Be a Millionairesigned its next host: Terry Crews.

Crews is a former NFL player and a current actor, who has been seen in movies and on television, most recently in Fox's "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," a show about Brooklyn's 99th Police Precinct where Terry plays the police sergeant. Playing the part of a game show host was a new item for his resume, but he only lasted on this show for a single season, resigning to join the cast of "Nine-Nine."

Chris Harrison (2015 - present)

Chris_Harrison.jpg
Chris Harrison. courtesy Getty Images

Before its official announcement in 2015, Chris Harrison was already famous for hosting the wildly successful reality show "The Bachelor" and all of its spin-offs. Harrison took over for season 14 of the show and has been the acting host ever since, garnering a new set of popularity for the program. 

The show narrowly avoided cancellation after terrible ratings from the 2014-2015 season. Fortunately, Harrison turned the negative slump around. The show has currently been renewed through the 2018 season, and Harrison has signed on to host for at least that long. 

A Show Winding Down, or Moving Up?

Since its beginning in 1999, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire has been on a sort of ratings roller coaster. While it started out with a bang, ratings started to sink in prime time by 2002. In syndication, the show started out strong and then started to fade. Now that we're seeing a bit of turnover in hosting duties, it's difficult to tell if the show is going to wind down or if it will enjoy a new resurgence. However, with its solid format (even after numerous changes) and history, I certainly hope that "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" is once again on the way up. So, stay tuned and keep watching — viewership determines its longevity.
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Grosvenor, Carrie. "The Hosts of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire"." ThoughtCo, Mar. 4, 2017, thoughtco.com/who-has-hosted-millionaire-1397072. Grosvenor, Carrie. (2017, March 4). The Hosts of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire". Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/who-has-hosted-millionaire-1397072 Grosvenor, Carrie. "The Hosts of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire"." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/who-has-hosted-millionaire-1397072 (accessed November 20, 2017).