When the announcement came in December 2018 that Kathie Lee Gifford would be elevating her glass that Pinot Grigio because that the last time on Today in April, she made it clean why she stayed on the present for 11 years. She just "fell in love" v her partner-in-crime Hoda Kotb and the rest of the NBC morning display crew.

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But as true together that may be, Kathie Lee Gifford was actually prepared to leave Today year ago. In fact, the 65-year-old started what she phone call "the process" of wade away, after becoming a widow in 2015 when her husband that 29 years, candid Gifford, died. "The process" began to take even an ext motion in 2017, after ~ she lost her mother, Joan Epstein.


Heartbroken without her husband and mom by she side, if her youngsters — Cody, 29, and also Cassidy, 25 — to be "living really happily in Los Angeles," Kathie Lee knew she was at a crossroads. Life in Greenwich, Connecticut and also working in new York City simply wasn"t walk to work for her anymore. Something, as she says, had to give.

"For the first time in mine life, over there was the perfect storm of things, and also I would execute our show in the morning and be house by noon, and also then I’d go, ‘Well, I should be law something meaningful, else, with my life,"" Kathie Lee tells urbanbreathnyc.com. "And because that the an initial time in my whole life, I could do something I wanted to do. I don’t need to work, yet I must work."

Kathie Lee calls it s her "an artist," and also one that will "die on the vine" if she isn"t continually on the move producing something. And also so, emotion an overwhelming advice to collection out top top a new adventure, she determined to offer her notice to Noah Oppenheim, the president of NBC News. She initially told him she"d provide him one year to figure it out, because that the benefits of gift a "team player." It"s the very same courtesy she provided ABC once she walked far from Live through Regis and Kathie Lee in 2000 after ~ 15 years on the program.

For the first time in my entire life, I can do anything I want to do. I don’t need to work, yet I should work.

But everything suddenly changed when Matt Lauer was fired for alleged inappropriate sexual behavior in November 2017.

"That was a huge blow come the show. And we were every reeling from that, trying to all figure out how to procedure that," Kathie Lee says.

Fearing that more "shakeups" could rock the Today present even more, young name asked Kathie Lee to stay one more year. The TV host said she"d only consider it if she could also work top top her other projects in the meantime. Additionally, Kathie Lee made Noah promise the he would support her upcoming films and also "make it part of the show."

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Noah agreed and kept his word. Today had a crew fly over to Scotland if Kathie Lee filmed Then came You v her good friend and fellow TV host Craig Ferguson. Through so lot going on between movie-making and co-hosting, the extra year flew by. And before Kathie Lee knew it, it to be December 2018 — the time that to be agreed upon come announce she departure.

"I knew there would be a the majority of untrue stories coming the end if we didn’t manage the story well and also get front of it, in irradiate of what Today had actually been through in the past," she explains. "But when the day come I to be like, "Oh my gosh, is this really happening?""

Another reminder the it was, indeed, really happening was when Kathie Lee learned the her fellow Today anchor and also former "First Daughter" Jenna bush Hager would be instead of her. If girlfriend ask KLG, she"ll tell you the it to be a "smart" decision on NBC"s part, not just due to the fact that Jenna is "adored" by anyone on the show and also has a "lovely chemistry" v Hoda, but due to the fact that she"s already established in ~ Today.

"I think over there could’ve to be a lot of an excellent choices, yet a many them were outside the <Today> family," Kathie Lee says. "We kind of learned the hard method about that, and also Jenna"s tried and also true. It’s going come be various ... I think it’ll be a an extremely comfortable chair for her to sit in."

Though, as Kathie Lee to know from her long career on morning programs, sitting in who else"s chair is no easy feat. It"s a duty wrought with expectations and comparisons come the human being that came before you. The press will definitely be there, however Kathie Lee wishes her parting words to Jenna will aid relieve some of that stress.

"I said, "You recognize what, Jenna? You gained this job since of that you are." So you just display up on the morning and also you proceed to be that you are," Kathie Lee recalls. "People love girlfriend , you’re going come learn, you’re going to grow, similar to I have every job of mine life ... And have fun."


The good news because that Jenna is the Kathie Lee and Hoda have currently found a successful layout that seems to occupational well for Today"s fourth hour. Of course, figuring out the hour wasn"t easy at first. Together KLG tells us, as soon as she was hired in 2008, she absolutely "hated" the way Today want to shoot the program.

Instead of gift warm and cozy in a studio, lock were outside on the Plaza close to Rockefeller center (at the center of brand-new York City, wherein NBC is headquartered). Also the the strongest hairspray didn"t stand a chance against the wind. On optimal of that, the cheers native the audience, Kathie Lee claims, made that really difficult to hear every other.

But on one specifically chilly spring morning that Kathie Lee now calls "a miracle," every one of that changed. Hoda, who was "Dateline Hoda" back then, provided to have all her notes printed on cards — prefer a true reporter would. "That didn’t work-related for me, due to the fact that she wasn’t working through a journalist, she to be working with an entertainer. And I couldn’t adjust at the point, and also I wasn’t going to change. It would certainly be ridiculous," Kathie Lee says.

Apparently, fate agreed. Moments later, a vast gust that wind took Hoda"s notes and blew lock everywhere. That was devastating for Hoda, however thrilling because that Kathie Lee. Why? because it was then the the 2 really began talking come one another. That, along with the truth that the owners of a building adjacent got the 2 co-hosts banned from the Plaza for making too lot noise in ~ 10 a.m., to be a authorize that it was time to move the party indoors.

“We were like bad children ~ above the playground … I’ve gained kicked the end of so plenty of places for having actually fun. I was kicked the end of Brownies when I was six, but that"s a story for one more time," Kathie Lee laughs.

Through the highest of highs and also lowest that lows, Hoda has been Kathie Lee"s foundation over the last 11 years. She keeps all of her secrets and also knows just what come do when the walking gets really tough.

"Hoda knows things about me the nobody does. She"s beloved," Kathie Lee begins, prior to explaining exactly how "Hoda Mama" has greatly influenced her outlook ~ above life:

“She"s re-acquainted me through child-like awe, even before she had her child. I have had actually the crap beaten the end of me a lot, in a 50-year career. And in this city and also in my business, and in life in general ... And also it’s not that I’ve lost my joy or my belief or noþeles else. I simply stopped … see the beauty, beauty in little things … she would certainly stop and take time with particular things once I would certainly be on come the following thing. She taught me to slow down a tiny bit ... That’s the way I provided to be, actually. I’ve kind of shed that kind of evaluation of beauty beauty in life. However I’m grateful to her for that."

And when Kathie Lee necessary Hoda the many — on august 9, 2015, the day Frank died (which occurred to it is in on Hoda"s birthday) — she to be there, even when Kathie Lee inquiry her not to be. The minute Hoda got back from her pilgrimage to brand-new Orleans, she hopped in a auto from the airport and also was in ~ Kathie Lee"s prior door step one hour later.


"I knew she would, she doesn’t take it direction very well," Kathie Lee jokes. "There was no means Hoda was not going to be there because that me. No way. She"s the actual deal."

Their beautiful friendship has actually only blossomed over the years, making the increasingly an overwhelming for KLG to bid farewell. Together, they"ve interviewed everyone from Dolly Parton and Carol Burnett to fleeting truth TV stars (though, as Kathie Lee quips, she "misses the days as soon as you only had a guest that true success on TV.")

All that the experiences have offered Kathie Lee "a million beautiful memories" and "a couple of forever friends." In fact, Kathie Lee states that after her last day on Friday, she"s hopping on a plane with Hoda and sportscaster Jill Martin to have a "wild and crazy" girls weekend in ~ her new home close to Nashville, Tennessee.

"We don’t desire it come end. The party"s only begun," Kathie Lee declares.

To the end, Kathie Lee is excited come share that she will sometimes be popping up on Today come visit she morning display family. However until then, it"s top top to brand-new projects and also thinking about life beyond NBC.

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"It’s not goodbye forever ... Yet if there"s any kind of such thing as a beloved goodbye, this is it. This is it."

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