Kathie Lee Gifford Opens Up Her Journey To The Top
Being a television host and under the constant eye of the millions of viewers is not an easy job, but Kathie Lee Gifford has been wooing the viewers of America for many years now and loves what she does!
However, her journey has not been an easy one! Kathie spoke about her struggles in an interview with PEOPLE magazine and how she overcame it to become a stronger person.
The first awakening
Kathie has a Jewish heritage, but one day after watching Billy Graham produced ‘The Restless Ones’ when she was just 12, she along with her family became born-again Christian.
Remembering that day as if it happened just yesterday, Kathie says, ‘I walk into my house and realise that my mother and sister were sobbing. Since they were sitting in front of the television and had the same reaction when President Kennedy was assassinated, I thought there has been another just event that has taken place.’
‘But I got to know that they were moved to tears after watching Christian Evangelist Billy Graham talking about the Lord on television. That night their life changed after they came to Christ. I took some more time in following their footsteps.’
‘For me, it was when I watched Billy Graham’s ‘The Restless One’ movie which was realized in theatres at that time. Produced by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, it was the first time came out with the movie. The movie narrates the life of a girl who was on the threshold of making big life decisions. Her biggest dilemma was whether she should follow her faith or the ways of the world.’
‘For a 12 year old me, it was a life altering moment. I felt that God was talking directly to me, asking me to have faith in him to make my life meaningful. I sensed that God loved me. From that moment I came to Christ’
Kathie’s faith led the way for her after that point. Since, she was aware that she wanted to be an actress from a very young age; she got her first break in a television game show called ‘Name That Tune’ as a vocalist. From then on, she moved to acting in serials and advertisements, before moving to become a television host.
Her career as a television host led her to meet her future husband former NFL player and sports commentator Frank Gifford in 1983. For Kathie, he was her lifeline since she had just gone through an ugly divorce with her first husband Paul Johnson. The couple was married three years later in 1986. In 1990, the couple had their first child Cody Newton followed by Cassidy Erin Gifford in 1993.
However, just when she thought she was at the peak of her career and marriage life, she was struck with heartbreak. In 1997, she learnt about Frank’s extra marital affair with an airline hostess Suzen Johnson. However, Kathie refused to give up on her husband. ‘It was a painful experience for both of us but I knew that we will come through and almost three years later, we did’, says Kathie recalling those saddening days.
In 2015, Kathie’s husband for 40 years, Frank Gifford passed away at the age of 84. He was suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy. For Kathie, telling Goodbye and letting Frank go was very tough. But, being a strong woman that she is, Kathie pressed on to live life to the fullest!
10 Fun facts about Kathie Lee Gifford
For all those who are fans of television host Kathie Lee Gifford, here are a few interesting facts about her life that will make you fall in love with her even more.
- Kathie Lee Gifford is an American host who is known for her 15 year stint on her talk show ‘Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee’ on WABC-TV.
- One of the few actresses to have received 11 Emmy nominations, Kathie won her first Emmy in 2010. She was part of the Today team.
- Kathie married her first husband Paul Johnson in the year 1976, just when her career had started to take off with the game show Name That Tune. She was a vocalist on this show hosted by Tom Kennedy. She divorced Paul in 1983.
- Just before she got her television break, Kathie worked as a baby sitter for pop singer Anita Bryant in Miami.
- After her divorce from Paul, Kathie met her future husband former NFL player Frank Gifford at one of ABC’s morning shows. After a whirlwind romance, the couple got married in 1986. Kathie and Frank had two children – Cassidy Erin and Cody Newton. Frank passed away in 2015.
- Kathy switched from acting to becoming a full time television host when she became the co-host of ‘The Morning Show’ with Regis Philbin. And, their show ‘Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee’ went live on national television in the year 1988.
- Kathie is devout Christian. She believes that at the age of 12 after watching Billy Graham’s The Restless Ones, she became born-again Christian
- In 2000, she sung her own version of the ‘Love Never Fails’ when she released her album ‘The Heart of a Woman’.
- Kathie and her late husband supported two shelters in New York for HIV positive infants or those who cocaine addicts. Named after their children Cody and Cassidy, Kathie continues to raise money for the shelter.
- During her school days, Kathie was part of a singing group – Pennsylvania Next Right. As a singer, she has sung throughout her high school and graduation.