Kathie Lee Gifford told her late husband Frank that she would try co-hosting the fourth hour of the Today show for one season. That was 11 years ago. This week, Gifford will retire as replacement Jenna Bush Hager prepares to fill her shoes.
Gifford announced the news in December and plans to focus on other projects. Kathie Lee Gifford’s last day will be Friday, April 5.
“It’s not that I wanted to leave the Today show,” Gifford told USA Today. “I just had to leave if I wanted to actually fulfill lifetime dreams I have that I am running out of time for.”
“As we all know, Kathie Lee’s plate has been overflowing lately with film, music and book projects, and after giving us eleven extraordinary years, she’s decided to focus her attention full-time on those other creative endeavors,” NBC News chief Noah Oppenheim said in a memo.
Kathie Lee has Many new Projects on Which She Wants to Focus
“Gifford recently released a new music video for ‘Once Again,’ the second single from her upcoming movie, ‘Then Came You,’ shares why she believes the set of circumstances that led her to the new chapter in her life were a ‘Godwink,'” reports Today.
The 65-year-old is moving to Nashville to focus on music full time. Kathie Lee had for years pursued a career as a Christian singer before a Good Morning America producer heard her on an A.M. radio show and invited her to television.
After joining Regis Philbin on The Morning Show, she cemented wide popularity as his co-host of Live With Regis & Kathie Lee.
Kathie Lee says she has only been on one date since her husband Frank died in 2015, and is ready to date again, adding she is “not interested in something that isn’t magnificent.”
Gifford is vocal about her Christian faith. “For the Today show host, Kathie Lee Gifford, her faith comes first when it comes to finding love again after losing her husband of 29 years,” reports CBN News.
Gifford talked about her “crippling loneliness” after losing both her husband and mother.
“Who doesn’t want to find love again?” Gifford told CBN in 2018. “I think my probability is less, obviously. Some men are afraid of strong women. I wouldn’t be interested in a man like that anyway.”
“Gifford took hiatus last summer to shoot a romantic comedy with Scottish former CBS late-night host Craig Ferguson, which follows a widow’s journey around the world,” reports Page Six. Gifford wrote the movie and has funding for four additional movies of the same theme.
Gifford said, “I’ve become a widow, I lost my mother, and am an empty-nester, and there’s millions of women in America just like me. There’s nothing in the movie world made for women of my age who are alone and often affluent. I started writing the first movie, I realized there is a huge market for it, and now I’ve got funding for four more.”
Kathie Lee’s Final Episode as a TODAY Host Will air April 5
Gifford’s final episode will air April 5. After 67 years on the air, the Today show is the fifth-longest-running American television series. Jenna Bush Hager, 37, is taking over for Gifford on the fourth hour of the Today show. Hager began as a correspondent, contributor and co-host of the Today show in 2009. She is one of the twin daughters of former U.S. President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush, and granddaughter former President George H. W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush.
The new Today show star is married to Henry Chase Hager. The couple has two daughters. They announced their first pregnancy on the Today show. Kotb, 54, said of her new co-host, “Being around Jenna is like being around the most real person.”