Kathy Lee Gifford is retiring from her co-hosting position on the Today Show after 11 years. NBC and her co-anchor Hoda Kotb sent her off in style with drinks, matching dresses, and plenty guest appearances, including John Cena and Barry Manilow. Regis Philbin – her original morning show partner in crime – sent in a video message.
Kathy Lee is relocating to Nashville full-time and pursue music and film projects.
Kathy Lee’s husband, football great Frank Gifford, died in 2015 and since then she’s shared her journey through grief and her journey of faith with the audience. Her 29-year-old son Cody Gifford was in attendance as his mother recounted (again) the story of his conception on a Carnival Cruise.
Cody’s younger sister, Cassidy, is currently shooting the faith-based series “The Baxters” with Roma Downey, so she could not attend the farewell, but Cody and Cassidy pre-recorded a segment which made their mom cry. In the segment, the two adult children talked of how proud their father was of their mom. Photos of the family flashed across the screen.
“What I learned through my dad’s eyes about my mom was just how proud he was of her,” Cody shared.
Cassidy remarked how her father would often watch Kathy Lee on the Today show and how he often said, “’ You know, there is no one else like her. Who knows if there ever will be?’”
As the segment ended, Kathy Lee walked to her son in the audience and hugged him. As they held each other, Cody said, “We love you, mom. I’m so proud of you. Dad is too.”
Those sweet words from Cody brought tears to Kathy Lee’s eyes. At which point she exclaimed, “Ugh – I’m done now. I’m done.”
They nearly were. As Kathy Lee reigned in her emotions, the rest of the staff, including her replacement, Jenna Bush Hager (who has filled in for Kathy Lee in the past) joined her on stage. As the last 30 seconds of the show wound down, she closed perfectly.
She said, “Jeremiah 29 says ‘I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a future and a hope.’ That’s not just true for me, you guys, that’s true for everybody watching. Trust Him. Let Him love you like He wants to love you. Like I am loved by all of you. Thank you.”
No, thank you, Kathy Lee and God speed.