Kathie Lee Gifford announces she's leaving the 'Today' show after 11 years

  • Kathie Lee Gifford announced on Tuesday that she is leaving the “Today” show sometime after the show’s anniversary in April.
  • Gifford has been a member of the NBC morning show for nearly 11 years, co-hosting the popular fourth hour since 2008.

Kathie Lee Gifford made the tearful announcement that she’s leaving the “Today” show on Tuesday.

The 65-year-old has been a member of the NBC morning show cast for more than 10 years.

“It’s bittersweet, as these things always are,” she told viewers at the top of the fourth hour, which she has co-hosted with Hoda Kotb since 2008.

Gifford went on to say that she only intended to work at the show for a year, but “fell in love with a beautiful Egyptian goddess,” she said, referring to Kotb.

“Now, when it’s our 11th anniversary, I’m going to be leaving the ‘Today’ show,” Gifford said.

When the co-hosts started crying over the news, Gifford reached up and grabbed a Kleenex from a box suspended above the pair’s desk, causing the set workers to break out into laughter.

Kotb went on to thank Gifford for selecting her as her co-host in the first place. Her popularity among the fourth hour crowd helped Kotb snag the main co-hosting gig of the first hours of “Today” when Matt Lauer left the show last year.


Read more:
Hoda Kotb will be Matt Lauer’s permanent replacement as ‘Today’ coanchor for NBC

“How does one person step in your life and change it like that? And you did that for me,” Kotb said.

Gifford said Kotb had an equal impact on her life, and that they would continue to be friends.

“Your friendship shows up on the air,” Gifford said. “We weren’t colleagues very long. We became friends and now were going to be friends for the rest of our lives.”

Kathie lee and hodaNBC NewsWhen the co-hosts started crying over the news, Gifford reached up and grabbed a Kleenex from a box suspended above the pair’s desk.

Gifford also thanked their loyal audience, and dropped a hint about who she thought might fill her place.

“Thank you again everybody for supporting us and loving us and I know somebody wonderful will be sitting in this seat afterwards,” she said. “I have my idea of who might be absolutely wonderful, but there’s a great pool of talent and beauty and heart right within our own family.”

Gifford may be referring to former first daughter Jenna Bush Hager, who often fills in on the show.

News broke of Gifford’s exit just before the fourth hour, when several outlets obtained an internal email about Gifford’s retirement.

According to the internal email, Gifford will leave the show after its next anniversary on April 7.

Read the full email, as published originally by Deadline:

From: Noah Oppenheim [NBC News president]

Subject: KLG

All,

It is with mixed emotions that I share the news Kathie Lee Gifford has decided it’s time to leave TODAY.

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 endeavours.

When we first launched this incredible hour, no one could have predicted the lightning (or rather, wine) in a bottle that is Hoda & Kathie Lee. Whether in studio or on one of their many road trips, they have delighted our audience with their distinct brand of fun, friendship and adventure. During that time, Kathie Lee has cemented her status as one of the most enduring and endearing talents in morning television. In short – she is a legend.

Jimmy Fallon summed it up best when he channeled Kenny Rogers on the tenth anniversary show earlier this year: Through the years, Kathie Lee has never let us down, she’s turned our lives around and she’s brought some of the sweetest days we’ve found…

As Kathie Lee told me today: “In 2008, I joined the TODAY Show family intending to spend one year. But something unexpected happened along the way: I fell in love with a beautiful, talented, extraordinary Egyptian goddess named Hoda, and an amazing group of individuals who work tirelessly and joyfully at their jobs, many of them starting at midnight, creating an unprecedented four hours of live television. I stayed year after year making a million memories with people I will never forget. I leave TODAY with a grateful heart but I’m truly excited for this new creative season in my life. Many thanks to all the wonderful people who made the years fly by.”

Kathie Lee is generously staying with us through the show’s next anniversary, April 7, 2019. We will have much more to share before then about our plans for that hour, which will, of course, continue to include Hoda.

Please join me in congratulating Kathie Lee on a dazzling run at TODAY. We look forward to celebrating her in the months to come.

Noah

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.