Kathie Lee Gifford Said She Had A ‘More Powerful Dream’ Than Being on ‘Today’

Former Today Show co-host Kathie Lee Gifford is working on a plethora of creative projects in her new home town of Nashville, Tennessee. Making her last appearance as an NBC employee on April 5, Gifford is now pursuing the goals she had put on the back burner for years.

Though the former television personality has always been grateful for her seat at the Today table, Gifford was ready to move on to finally fulfill some dreams she’s had since childhood.

Kathie Lee Gifford attends the 28th Annual Movieguide Awards Gala
Kathie Lee Gifford | Paul Archuleta/Getty Images

Last ‘Today’ as co-host

The NBC morning news show pulled out all the stops to give Gifford a proper send-off. “I feel great,” she said during the broadcast on April 5, according to Today.com. “I have no expectations. You just want to bear it well. … You also want to remind people of why this show worked in the beginning — because we have fun. We have a great love and affection and respect for our audience.”

Moving to Music City after her departure from the show, Gifford is now thriving in the creative environment. “It’s the most creative place in the world,” she shared. “It’s just this constant, like, what any artist experiences when they’re in their full joy, full zone.”

Surrounded by inspiration, the former Today star revealed that she is just now getting started in her professional endeavors.

“I did not retire from life,” she told D Magazine. “I retired from a certain show. I’d had it with daytime television. I’ve been living it for 35 years, off and on. I was ready to manage my time completely on my own. I realized that for the first time in my life that I was completely free to do whatever I wanted to do.”

Always had an eye on the silver screen

While serving as a co-host on one of television’s most iconic morning news programs is a highly coveted role, the seat at the Today table was never Gifford’s ultimate goal. The mom of two revealed she’s always held a different aspiration close to her heart.

“Maybe it is someone else’s dream job,” Gifford told AARP in April 2019. “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.” 

Proactive since childhood, Gifford decided to start at the top and sent Walt Disney a letter asking to be in one of his movies when she was in elementary school. “I said, ‘I know you love Hayley Mills and Annette Funicello, but you really need to meet me,’” she said with a laugh. “Talk about chutzpah!”

Living the dream

Turns out Gifford is now creating her own roles. In 2018, she wrote the screenplay for Then Came You, a film about a widow who travels the world with her husband’s ashes. She performed the lead role and recruited Craig Ferguson to star alongside her. Gifford and Ferguson had previously discussed doing a movie together but hadn’t made any firm plans.

“Two o’clock in the morning, I woke up and I went, ‘I know what the movie should be!’” Gifford recalled. “I just knew. I got up and started writing. And around noon that day, I called Craig. I said, ‘Craig, remember that movie that you and I were going to write? Well, I think I just wrote it.’” 

Her pal and former co-host Hoda Kotb commented on Gifford’s determination. “The thing about Kathie is that at any given moment she has an idea she needs to get out of her system,” Kotb shared. “When she decided on doing Then Came You, she had no backer. She went to start location scouting and casting anyway.”

While she eventually did acquire some investors, a release date has not been set at this time. Gifford’s former colleague has full confidence in her friend’s ability to get the film on the silver screen. “She wills things into existence,” Kotb said of Gifford. “Kathie wants to put beautiful things into the world, which I think is the secret to happiness.”

 Since leaving Today, Gifford has worked on other projects including songwriting, recording music, and directing the short film The God Who Sees. “All I ever wanted to do was be in movies and sing,” Gifford explained. “Now I get to do that.”