Kathie Lee Gifford caught fans off guard on Tuesday morning when she announced that she is leaving the “Today” show in April.
Her decision moved co-host Hoda Kotb to tears. “The moment you stepped into my life with both feet everything changed,” Kotb told her friend and longtime co-host. “Everything good that happened in my life happened since you came.”
The TV duo has hosted the fourth hour of the “Today” show together for 11 years. Their lively antics and love of wine charmed loyal viewers.
"They are two actual friends, people who truly respect and love each other, and that comes through on television. There is no way to fake chemistry, and viewers can tell that Kathie Lee and Hoda have something special. That is why the show worked for so long in so many ways," CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter told Inside Edition.
Gifford got her start in 1974, singing on the game show "Name That Tune." She moved on to daytime TV in 1985, pairing up with Regis Philbin for the hugely successful partnership that lasted 15 years on “Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee.”
Along the way, there was heartbreak, particularly when her husband, football great Frank Gifford, died in 2015. Gifford spoke candidly about her pain, as she has often done through the years.
"She is talented in so many ways – a writer, a singer, a playwright, an actress; the list goes on and on. It is a totally understandable decision but I know her fans are going to be disappointed to see her go," Stelter added.