Why Kathie Lee Gifford Won’t Regret Leaving the ‘Today’ Show
At one time, people who worked in TV often realized they should always leave while ahead. Since time seems to pass much faster nowadays (only by perception), a lot of those TV stays have gone on longer than expected. You can say this about a handful of TV dramas and comedies, though it’s the same for some talk show hosts.
Kathie Lee Gifford was one of the rare few blessed with a second life on TV after thinking she’d never go back once leaving Regis & Kathie Lee in 2000. It took eight years for her to land her perfect hosting turn on Today with Hoda Kotb, but she ultimately stayed in this role almost as long as the former gig.
Will she regret leaving, or will we see her become even more legendary?
Why it was a good time to leave
Despite Gifford and Kotb being at the peak of their popularity in that extra Today hour, it was arguably the best time for Kathie Lee to leave. On an emotional level, she probably needs more time to put her life in perspective.
After all, she lost her husband (Frank Gifford) four years ago from CTE complications. The show did allow her time to show outward emotion about it, yet it’s hard to grieve properly when you’re busy with a TV show.
Then her mother, Joan, died a couple of years ago. On top of this, her daughter Cassidy moved out of the house after becoming an adult. Kathie has been an empty nester for the last year, precipitating a desire to make a living arrangement change to Nashville.
Most of all, though, Gifford wants to go full circle with a career many forgot she was destined to do.
Kathie Lee likely thought she’d always be a singer
By the time Gifford landed her first talk show job with Regis Philbin in 1985, a lot of people didn’t remember she was a singer who’d worked on game shows like Name That Tune. Despite not being a superstar singer, she had a good voice and used it well in her various TV appearances through the early 1980s.
Once she met Frank Gifford, she more or less reinvented her career. Being a talk show host for so many years made everyone think this was basically all she’d done.
Had she not have chosen to do Live with Regis & Kathie Lee, she likely would have become a more popular singer (possibly on the Christian charts), and maybe starred on Broadway.
Now Kathie Lee is intending to fulfill her dream of Broadway, something she’s already dabbled in. More movie acting is also on the agenda.
The ironic turn of talk show host as detour
When you put Gifford’s life all together, you realize her role as talk show host was really just a fortuitous sideline career compared to what she really wanted to do.
Situations like this do happen to people where they discover they’re more popular doing one thing when they really wanted to do something else all along.
The only problem with this is while these individuals want to fulfill their dreams, they realize they can’t find as much success in those endeavors as the ones they did during their detour career.
Will Gifford really find equal success making albums and acting in movies/Broadway? Latter is the better bet for the exuberant musical personality she has. Even so, she has experienced a flop on the Broadway stage.
You have to think Gifford will still make guest appearances on ‘Today’
Talk is already brewing about Jenna Bush Hager possibly replacing Gifford on Today. Former guest-hosted recently and seemed a perfect fit for the job. No doubt the large wine glasses will still be passed around as well.
For Gifford, she might fulfill her dream of singing and acting while realizing it’s impossible to stay away from being a host forever. We’d think she’d be open to guest appearances, including using it as a vessel to promote her latest projects.
In this case, having the perfect TV marketing platform available without year-long commitment to hosting is obviously ideal in the larger picture.