Rhonda Jamgotchian meets Regis Philbin as a co-host on ABC's "Live with Regis."

Live, with Regis... and Rhonda

Graduate attributes success to professors

Ronda Jamgotchian (Advertising ‘94) is a natural-born entertainer – quick-witted, smart and on-the-move.  Evidently, Regis Philbin of ABC’s “Live with Regis” morning talk show thought so, too, and liked what he saw.  Because it was a brief audition tape “with simply me talking” that secured a seat for her beside Regis as a guest co-host last fall.

The seat was left vacant when regular co-host Kathie Lee Gifford retired from the show.  While searching for a new co-host, ABC publicity gurus started a “real people” campaign with the possibility of filling the slot permanently.  The 33-year-old Ronda, a labor and employment lawyer with O’Melveny & Myers in Los Angeles, won a slot out of 15,000 competitors.  Indeed, she co-hosted twice in October 2000.

She obviously was in her element.  Her opening line with Regis?  “How ya’ doin’ Reg; can I call you Reg?”

Philbin shot back, “Well, King would be better, but Reg is fine.”

The razzle-dazzle banter characteristic of the show quickly led to the two breaking into a chorus of the “All in the Family” theme song, with Ronda as the irrepressible Edith Bunker. 

Her mother, Marcia Jamgotchian, who is an administrative support coordinator in the Department of Geography at CSUF, said Ronda’s always been a character.  “We called her Sarah Bernhardt when she was growing up.  She was always an actress – always getting into things, always playing out scenes.” She was with her daughter in New York – for the shows and the shopping – which ran true to form for Ronda. 

During her second appearance on the show, she related an incident that occurred in the course of one of her assaults on a department store.  She was trying to keep an elevator door open, so she kicked her leg in to stop it from closing, but it took off anyway – with her shoe.  She said she pushed the button to call the elevator back; but when it returned, the shoe was gone.

“Somebody took my shoe!” she exclaimed.

“Somebody took your shoe?” Regis reiterated.

“Yeah, somebody took my shoe.”

“Animals!” Regis snarled.

Ronda limped to Lost and Found – to no avail.  Undaunted, she simply bought another pair of shoes.

Ronda brought her Lucille Ball-esque life to Fullerton right after graduation from high school in 1984, declaring theatre as her major.  She left for several years to pursue a career in hotel management but returned in 1991 to graduate in 1994 with high honors in communications.  She went on to graduate magna cum laude from the University of California Hastings College of Law in San Francisco in 1998.  She passed the bar on the first take.

She clerked for a federal district judge in Hawaii during her first year out.  Then, in January 2000, she started practicing with O’Melveny & Myers, one of the largest and most prestigious law firms in the country, with close to 300 lawyers in the Los Angeles office.

Mike McGuinness, one of the firm’s partners, said in an interview, “She’s certainly a pleasure to work with.  She’s down to earth, smart, very professional.  She adds a colorful, out-going, exciting demeanor that you might not find in most lawyers.  I enjoy her vibrant personality.  And I value her as a professional colleague and as a friend.”

“I definitely enjoy practicing law in Los Angeles with O’Melveny & Myers,” Jamgotchian said.  “I intend to stay here as long as they’ll have me, with the caveat that if something compelling in entertainment falls into my lap, I could be persuaded to switch careers.”

She said she has fond memories of Cal State.  “Dr. Wayne Overbeck was a moving force in my decision to go on to law school,” she said. “He left an indelible mark on my career.” 

She also named Drs. Fred Zandpour, Paul Lester and Shay Sayre as significant mentors – and regretted forgetting the names of many others who left their mark as well. She added that she satisfied her yen for acting in a couple of acting classes, but mostly her theatre classes involved behind the scenes activities and projects.

Her debut onto the entertainment scene came when she was 4 years old and appeared on “Romper Room.”  That was followed by many years of performing in plays and musicals, with her favorite being the time she starred as Daisy Mae in a high school production of  “Li’l Abner.”

“So you see,” she said, “my acting career hasn’t grabbed any neon lights yet.  But I learned a lot from Regis.  What you see on camera is just the way he is backstage.  It was clearly one of the most exciting times of my life.”

Want to sit next to Regis again?  “Absolutely!  Live with Regis?  What can top that?”















She adds a colorful, out-going, exciting demeanor that you might not find in most lawyers.

Mike McGuinnes