Kathie Lee Gifford shocked Today Show fans earlier this week when she announced the bittersweet news that she’d be leaving the show after 11 years on air. The 65-year-old television host has been making viewers laugh for years during the lighthearted fourth hour of the morning show. Along with co-host Hoda Kotb and many glasses of wine, Gifford added a bright spot in what can certainly often be a lot of negative news. Although her departure was news to many, it wasn’t a surprise to Kotb who knew for quite awhile, according to Celebrity Insider.
Gifford’s been away from the show for a large part of the past year, busy with many projects of her own. “Hoda’s known it for a long, long time,” Gifford confessed on Wednesday’s episode of Today. “All these other projects have been bubbling up … and it’s so exciting. Movies and music and so many wonderful things. And I need the time for them to do them properly,” she said following the announcement.
Ready to take on the next chapter of her life, the television host had originally planned to retire after 10 years on the show. She was at a good place in her career and it felt like the appropriate time to leave. However, things didn’t quite go the way she planned. Following the sex scandal and eventual firing of former Today Show host Matt Lauer in late 2017, she decided to postpone her departure. Not wanting to place further strain on the television station, she agreed to wait until her 11th year mark on the show to retire.
Gifford and Kotb have become like family through the show and plan to remain just as close when Gifford leaves the program. “We do life and nobody more than my Hoda. It’s going to be the same as my Regis. I’m closer to him now more than after 15 years together,” Gifford told Kotb. “You don’t share that life together and not be changed forever by it. I love you, Hoda mama. First, you were just Hoda, remember?” Gifford has shared in many of Kotb’s own personal struggles and triumphs over the past decade, even offering her support as she went through the process of adoption. Kotb’s own life took a new focus after the adoption of her daughter Haley Joy who was born in 2017.
Gifford reportedly felt relieved to finally have the news of her departure out in the open. Her final show will air this spring on April 7, 2019.