Revealed: Why Kathie Lee Gifford Is Really Leaving ‘Today’

Why is Kathie Lee Gifford leaving the Today show? In a new interview with AARP The Magazine, Kathie Lee Gifford opens up about why she decided to leave the job and how she’s moving forward with her life.

Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford, Today - Season 68
Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford | Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Kathie Lee Gifford announced she was leaving the Today show

Kathie Lee Gifford made the announcement about her decision to leave the Today show back in December. The announcement certainly surprised her fans, who have been tuning in faithfully every morning to watch Gifford and Hoda Kotb and their immense best gal pals chemistry.

At the time, she shared: “It’s an exciting time for me and I’m thrilled about all the projects that are coming up, but it’s also hard. 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.”

Gifford has served as co-host of the Today show’s fourth hour for over 10 years. She will be leaving on April 5, just shy of her 11th year anniversary with the show.

Jenna Bush Hager has been announced as Gifford’s replacement, as she remarked to PEOPLE: “I’m so excited, I can’t believe it. It feels organic and it feels right. It just feels like the right time for me.”

The real reason Gifford decided to leave Today

Gifford’s announcement came as a surprise to many fans as she had been a constant on daytime TV for so many years. She said of her decision: “Maybe it is someone else’s dream job. 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.”

She also explained, “I’m not reinventing myself at all,” adding, “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.”

Gifford made the movie Then Came You recently with Craig Ferguson, though the release date has not been announced.

View this post on Instagram

Beyond blessed for friends like this!!

A post shared by Kathie Lee Gifford (@kathielgifford) on

Gifford talked about the loss of her husband

The Today show anchor’s husband, Frank Gifford, died at age 84 in 2015. They had been married for 29 years.

In the interview, Gifford talks about the “loneliness when you lose a spouse” and how she is constantly working through this challenge. She shared: “If you’re not careful, what you’ve lost in life can define you. It’s so much better to be defined by what you still have, it’s just healthier. 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.”

Part of that adjustment was moving out of their Connecticut home and she gave a glimpse at how she continues to find her path: “I found myself dealing with crippling loneliness. I had to make a move to someplace physically, and I had to make emotional moves and spiritual moves. You gotta make new memories or the old ones are going to kill you.”