Hoda and kathie today

On April 5, longtime Today star and morning talk show host Kathie Lee Gifford bid farewell to NBC after 11 years.

“It’s not goodbye forever,” she previously told GoodHousekeeping.com days before her last Today episode. “But if there’s any such thing as a lovely goodbye, this is it. This is it.”

This Tuesday, Kathie Lee will make a triumphant return to the fourth hour of Today. Jenna Bush Hager has since filled her seat alongside Hoda Kotb.

The real reason Kathie Lee decided to leave Today …

In her December 2018 announcement, Kathie Lee cited all the projects she had coming up as a reason for stepping down from her position. Film-wise, she wrapped up post-production on her “passion project” Then Came You last fall. In April 2019, she also made her directorial debut in the short film The God Who Sees.

Besides that, Kathie Lee said that she initially had never intended to stay on Today longer than one year back in 2008. But because she felt such a strong connection to Hoda, she just couldn’t walk away.

“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,” Kathie Lee stated on her show.

What’s more, Kathie Lee told her co-stars one day after announcing her departure, “If you’re not being artistic, you die on the vine … I want to do something beautiful, and brand new and learn something brand new on the day I die.”

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Kayla Keegan News and Entertainment Editor Kayla Keegan covers all things in the entertainment, pop culture, and celebrity space for Good Housekeeping.

Kathie Lee Gifford, who has co-anchored TODAY’s fourth hour with Hoda Kotb for the past decade, is retiring from the program, she announced Tuesday.

“It’s an exciting time for me and I’m thrilled about all the projects that are coming up, but it’s also hard,” she said, breaking the “bittersweet” news. “I’ve been in this business for 120 years and never worked with a more beautiful group of people who just give, give, give every day.”

Kathie Lee Gifford announces she’s leaving TODAY

Dec. 11, 201805:50

Kathie Lee, 65, said she plans to stay through the program through her next anniversary, April 7, 2019. She credited her success on the show to the friendship she developed with her partner, Hoda Kotb.

Trending stories,celebrity news and all the best of TODAY.

“I thought I would stay one year. Something happened along the way — fell in love with a beautiful Egyptian goddess,” she said, referring to Hoda. “We’re going to be friends for the rest of our lives. I’m grateful to God for you.”

Kathie Lee compared her friendship with Hoda to the one she developed with her other longtime TV co-star, Regis Philbin, after she left the program they once hosted together in 2000 after a dozen years.

Kathie Lee’s announcement was an emotional moment for the fourth hour hosts, who have been together for a decade. Nathan Congleton / TODAY

“When I left Regis it was hard, but I’m closer to him now than we were after 15 years together,” she said. “You don’t share that kind of life together and not be changed forever by it.”

The announcement had both women choking back tears.

“The minute you stepped into my life, everything changed,” Hoda recalled. “I remember thinking, how does one person step into your life and change it like that? And you did that for me.”

A true pro, a true legend, a true friend. We love you, @KathieLGifford https://t.co/Bakox9pvUy

— Savannah Guthrie (@SavannahGuthrie) December 11, 2018

We adore you KLG. Thanks for your love, friendship and for your hilarity. You will be dearly missed. ️ https://t.co/8oUduJQEgl

— Jenna Bush Hager (@JennaBushHager) December 11, 2018 — Hoda Kotb (@hodakotb) December 11, 2018

The duo celebrated their 10-year-anniversary earlier this year with tributes from friends and celebrities they’ve had fun with over the years.

NBC News chief Noah Oppenheim sent an email announcing the news just minutes before Kathie Lee and Hoda went on air.

“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 endeavors,” he said in his memo.

“The minute you stepped into my life, everything changed,” Hoda told Kathie Lee. Nathan Congleton / TODAY

“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,” he continued.

“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.”

See Kathie Lee and Hoda’s funniest moments of the past 10 years

April 6, 201802:47

Kathie Lee Gifford returns to ‘Today,’ talks dating, lauds Nashville’s ‘culture of kindness’

Erin Jensen USA TODAY Published 11:22 AM EST Nov 12, 2019

On Monday came the reunion of “Today With Hoda and Jenna” hosts, following their respective family leaves. On Tuesday, there was another special homecoming: the return of Kathie Lee Gifford.

Tuesday, Gifford joined her former partner in wine and Jenna Bush Hager, who’d been on leave following the August arrival of her third, Hal.

At the top of the hour, the current hosts teased it would be “a big, big day” for viewers with Gifford’s return.

Then, the former “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee” host was seen trying to get through NBC security with a bottle of wine in her purse, a bit that tickled Kotb.

“It’s Kathie!” Gifford exclaimed to the member of security. “Some way to treat a guest. I’m going through!”

And she did make it to the stage, with wine glass in hand. “Hello, my darling,” she said, greeting Kotb.

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Kathie Lee Gifford, Jenna Bush Hager and Hoda Kotb on GIfford’s last day, April 5, 2019. Nathan Congleton/NBC

The veteran TV host walked away from the fourth hour of “Today” in April, telling USA TODAY shortly before her departure that she wanted to turn her attention to other things, like movies.

“It’s not that I wanted to leave the ‘Today’ show,” Gifford, 66, said at the time. “I just had to leave if I wanted to actually fulfill lifetime dreams I have that I’m running out of time for.”

She’d hosted the morning program with Hoda Kotb for 11 years.

Gifford said Tuesday she’s happier than she’s been “in years and years and years and years,” praising the “completely different culture” in Nashville, her new home.

“It’s a culture of kindness,” she said. “They’re joyful. They have so much fun – it’s music everywhere. There’s barbecues, everything’s Americana, like when I was growing up.”

“And I wake up and there are church bells ringing all around me, and birds,” she added, “and when a siren comes by rarely, it’s not because someone was murdered, it was because somebody needs help.”

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Hoda Kotb returns to ‘Today’ show, praises maternity leave: ‘You come back more whole’

Gifford also revealed that Music City has been the backdrop to “a couple dates.”

She was approached while listening to a favorite band, Tim Akers & the Smoking Section. “This sweet guy asked me to dance and so I said, ‘OK.’ And then he just disappeared into the crowd, and I said, ‘OK,’ ” she recalled. They took another twirl around the dance floor at a subsequent performance.

“We just went out a couple times. It was fun because – I hadn’t been on a date in 33 years,” she said. “It’s surreal, you know, it’s surreal ’cause the world’s changed so much. But he’s a gentleman so it was fine. It was fun, but then I got so busy and we’re just from different worlds.”

Moving to Nashville has also helped get Gifford in shape.

“Everybody made such a big deal about how skinny I was and all of that for so long, right? But, I was doing a movie about a widow who was a runner,” she said, adding a man in Nashville introduced her to an exercise program called Manduu.

To show off her transformation, Gifford removed her scarf and jacket, showcasing her toned biceps.

“Kathie, those muscles!” Bush Hager remarked.

“Those are not implants!” Gifford cracked, flexing.

Returning to the “Today” stage delighted Gifford.

“You know, it was lovely, because first of all, the traffic wasn’t too bad getting in. That was the other reason (I left), I couldn’t take the commute anymore, and then I started to see old friends who are now saying, ‘Say goodbye, Kathie,’ ” she joked.

In addition to songwriting and returning to Israel next February to make more films, Gifford will appear in “A Godwink Christmas: Meant for Love,” which she also executive produced, airing on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Sunday (9 EST/PST).

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Published 11:22 AM EST Nov 12, 2019

Jenna Bush Hager will replace Kathie Lee Gifford as ‘Today’ co-host

Jenna Bush Hager will take over Kathie Lee Gifford’s seat at the table of the fourth hour of the “Today” show in April, NBC News announced Tuesday.

Hager has been with “Today” for 10 years as a correspondent and contributor. A frequent fill-in co-host, she is a “Today” viewer favorite, and her profile increased recently during network coverage of the death of her grandfather, former President George H.W. Bush.

Hager, 37, will join co-host Hoda Kotb on what has traditionally been the most freewheeling hour of the “Today” franchise airing at 10 a.m. Kotb will continue to co-host the flagship “Today” hours of 7 to 9 a.m. with Savannah Guthrie.

In a memo to staff, NBC News President Noah Oppenheim said the program will use Gifford’s departure as an opportunity to make other changes to the 10 a.m. hour.

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Gifford announced in December that she is leaving “Today” after 11 years to spend more time on the West Coast, where she has a number of entertainment projects in the works.

Gifford said in interviews that she had wanted to leave the program at the end of 2017 but was persuaded to stay while “Today” was still absorbing the loss of veteran anchor Matt Lauer, who was fired after admitting to sexually inappropriate behavior in the workplace.

“Today” has undergone several talent changes over the last 18 months — the network also ended Megyn Kelly’s stint in the 9 a.m. hour after a segment about whether blackface was appropriate on Halloween. But it has maintained its status as the most-watched network morning program among viewers ages 25 to 54, the audience advertisers seek when they buy time on news programming.

“Today” has been running neck and neck with ABC’s “Good Morning America” in overall viewers, last week averaging 4.18 million to “GMA’s” 4.21 million, according to Nielsen data.

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Twitter: @SteveBattaglio

Jenna Bush Hager will replace Kathie Lee Gifford as ‘Today’ co-host

Jenna Bush Hager attends the Hudson River Park Friends Playground Committee Luncheon at Current, Chelsea Piers 59, in New York, NY, Jan. 25, 2019. (Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA)

Jenna Bush Hager will take over Kathie Lee Gifford’s seat at the table of the fourth hour of the “Today” show in April, NBC News announced Tuesday.

Hager has been with “Today” for 10 years as a correspondent and contributor. A frequent fill-in co-host, she is a “Today” viewer favorite, and her profile increased recently during network coverage of the death of her grandfather, former President George H.W. Bush.

Hager, 37, will join co-host Hoda Kotb on what has traditionally been the most freewheeling hour of the “Today” franchise airing at 10 a.m. Kotb will continue to co-host the flagship “Today” hours of 7 to 9 a.m. with Savannah Guthrie.

In a memo to staff, NBC News President Noah Oppenheim said the program will use Gifford’s departure as an opportunity to make other changes to the 10 a.m. hour.

Gifford announced in December that she is leaving “Today” after 11 years to spend more time on the West Coast, where she has a number of entertainment projects in the works.

Gifford said in interviews that she had wanted to leave the program at the end of 2017 but was persuaded to stay while “Today” was still absorbing the loss of veteran anchor Matt Lauer, who was fired after admitting to sexually inappropriate behavior in the workplace.

“Today” has undergone several talent changes over the past 18 months – the network also ended Megyn Kelly’s stint in the 9 a.m. hour after a segment about whether blackface was appropriate on Halloween. But it has maintained its status as the most-watched network morning program among viewers ages 25 to 54, the audience advertisers seek when they buy time on news programming.

“Today” has been running neck-and-neck with ABC’s “Good Morning America” in overall viewers, last week averaging 4.18 million to “GMA’s” 4.21 million, according to Nielsen data.

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Jenna Bush Hager has officially been named co-host of the fourth hour of NBC’s “Today.”

The move was widely expected as Hager has been a frequent presence on the program alongside Hoda Kotb in the months before and after Kathie Lee Gifford announced she was exiting the show.

“It feels humbling and I can’t believe it,” Bush Hager, one of former President George W. Bush’s twin daughters, said on Tuesday’s broadcast. “My dad just wrote me three words, which made me weep. He said, ‘Very proud dad.’ Which I’m like, what is there to be proud about? I’m just drinking wine in the morning.”

So thrilled for my sweet friend, @JennaBushHager. She will be a beautiful addition to this show that I have grown to love so much. @hodakotb is one blessed Hoda Mama. pic.twitter.com/DJQskFRFoi

— Kathie Lee Gifford (@KathieLGifford) February 26, 2019

Bush, who joined “Today” in 2009, replaces Gifford. In December, the morning show vet revealed she would be stepping down in April. During Tuesday’s announcement, Kotb, who also co-hosts the first two hours of NBC’s venerable morning show with Savannah Guthrie, hinted at more changes in store but wouldn’t elaborate.

“Today” has undergone a number of changes over the past year and a half. Matt Lauer left amid allegations of sexual harassment in November 2017. Then back in October 2018, Megyn Kelly, who hosted the 9 a.m. hour for just over a year, departed after her controversial comments defending the use of blackface.

Bush Hager, Craig Melvin and Al Roker have held down the fort since “Megyn Kelly Today” was canceled.

In a memo to staffers, NBC News chief Noah Oppenheim praised Bush Hager for her “compassion and curiosity… along with her Texas-sized sense of humor.”

Gifford’s last show will be April 5.

Kathie Lee Gifford is getting candid about dealing with an extremely difficult period in her life.

The 65-year-old television personality covers the April/May issue of AARP The Magazine and talks about adjusting to a new phase in her life after the death of her husband, Frank Gifford, in August 2015, and the death of her mother, Joan Epstein, in September 2017. Gifford’s kids, 25-year-old daughter Cassie and 29-year-old son Cody, are also out of the house.

“You battle a lot of things when you get older, especially as a widow, when you lose a spouse,” Gifford tells the magazine. “It dawned on me the other day, I’m a widow, I’m an orphan, because my mother also passed and I’m an empty nester all at the same time. If you’re not careful, what you’ve lost in life can define you. It’s so much healthier to be defined by what you still have. I’m making big changes in my life because I need to, really big changes that are feeding my soul. Otherwise, despair sets in and loneliness can be crippling.”

“I didn’t have to stay in this big house anymore,” she adds of her home in Long Island, New York. “I found myself dealing with crippling loneliness. I had to make moves and spiritual moves. You gotta make new memories or the old ones are going to kill you.”

In one particularly heartbreaking quote from her interview, Gifford talks about adjusting to having more alone time.

“Sunset used to be a huge thing in our family. Every day, no matter what, we’d yell, ‘Sunset alert!’ and we had to stop whatever we were doing, go out, and honor another day,” she recalls. “And now I still say it out loud to the puppies. We still go out and do it, but sunset alerts are some of my saddest moments when it’s just me and the dogs at home.”

Gifford admits she removed herself from social situations for a period of time after her husband died.

“When you’re part of a couple, you don’t realize that the whole world is just made up of couples,” she explains. “And all of a sudden, you’re that odd number at a dinner party. You’re the fifth, seventh, ninth person at the table. They’re always making an adjustment for you.”

Still, she relied on her friends to help her get through a tough 2018.

“My dearest friends during my darkest time, which was last year, my dearest friends knew I was going through a terrible time. A desert,” she says.

But clearly, Gifford is now making big moves at this stage in her career and life, deciding to leave the Today show in April after 11 years and also writing her film, Then Came You, which follows the story of a widow who takes her husband’s ashes on a trip to the locations of their favorite movies. Gifford says it’s the best time in her life creatively.

“Maybe it is someone else’s dream job,” she says of her decision to leave Today. “But there was a more powerful dream within me that had yet to be fulfilled. All I ever wanted to do, from the time I was a little girl, was sing and be in movies.”

“I’m not reinventing myself at all,” she adds. “I am evolving as an artist and a human being, and I will be till the day I die. People who think I’m a silly person do not know me at all. I’m 10 percent silly and 90 percent dead serious in my life.”

Still, Gifford is grateful for her incredible television career, particularly, finding her professional soulmates in both Regis Philbin — whom she co-hosted Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee with from 1998 to 2000 — and her Today show co-anchor, Hoda Kotb.

“I knew it was the beginning of something huge because I met my doppelganger when I met Regis,” she recalls. “I knew it. I met my creative equal. I felt that a few times in life. I felt that with Regis, I felt it with Hoda, although that took much longer. Regis and I were instant. But he’d been in the business, he was a performer like I was. Took longer with Hoda because she had to learn to trust her instincts.”

“I knew it with Craig Ferguson and I knew it with Brett James, musically,” she continues. “Those four people in my life, without a doubt.”

AARP The Magazine

Last month, Kotb said that “every good thing” in her life came after meeting Gifford during her appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

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Kathie Lee Gifford Has Only Been on One Date Since Her Husband Frank Died in 2015

After Kathie Lee Gifford films her last episode of the Today show on April 5, she’s looking forward to truly embracing a new chapter in Nashville, where she’ll be moving full time to work on music.

And now, almost four years since her husband of nearly 30 years, Frank Gifford, passed in 2015, she says she’s finally to get out into the dating world. She’s gone on one date since Frank died, and is open to going on more in her new city.

“I had a friend of mine who asked me a couple of years ago after Frank passed, he said, ‘Sorry, I guess Frank was the love of your life, right?’ … And I said ‘so far.’ I was kind of surprised by my answer because it was like optimistic, so far,” she told PEOPLE.

Her standards are high, though.

“I’m not interested in something that isn’t magnificent,” Kathie Lee asserted.

Her faith and her family have carried her through the years since Frank’s passing.

“I’ve gotten through this past year the way I’ve gotten through every day of my life: faithfully trusting God to do what God does, which is to show up, redeem and restore,” she wrote in an open letter in 2016. “God doesn’t promise you a year. He promises you a day at a time. He broke life into 24-hour periods because that’s all we can handle. The next day, you reach for your fresh cup of mercy that you need every bit as much as the day before.”

Now, she says, keeping God first will sort everything else out in her life.

“If you keep God in the equation, He knows your needs, He knows your desires. He knows everything before we even speak. He knows our hearts. He knows my heart’s desire is to be a fulfilled, complete human being,” she said.

“Do I need a man in my life? Well, I’ve got Cody,” Kathie Lee said, shouting out her 29-year-old son. “I’ve got a man in my life. I’ve got great male friends. Do I need companionship? Yes, I do, and that’s one of the main reasons I moved to Nashville. Not that I’m looking for a man. What I’m looking for is an active, vibrant life.”