SALT LAKE CITY — Kathie Lee Gifford had her “Today” sendoff Friday morning.
- Gifford announced her departure from the “Today” show back in December, which I wrote about for the Deseret News. On Friday morning, the show honored Gifford with a surprise performance by Flo Rida, who sang his hit song “My House." She then spoke to the “Today” show crowd about her exit.
- "I feel great. The last two weeks since all of this crazy stuff began when all of this crazy stuff began, I had no expectations," Gifford said. Audience members received a four-night cruise during the show, according to Entertainment Tonight.
- She added, "We have fun and we have a friendship and it's real and we have a great love and affection and respect for our audience.”
- Gifford and her co-host Hoda Kotb reflected on their time together, too. "God brought Hoda into my life for all kinds of different reasons," Kathie Lee said. "I was supposed to learn from her. She was supposed to learn from me. We were supposed to share life together."
- "I hope she knows how much I love her," Kathie Lee said, according to Today.com. "When I love, I love with my entire being, as long as I'm here with a pulse. That's how I love, and that hurts. That kind of love hurts, but I can't imagine living one moment of my life without it."
Other tributes: Regis Philbin, with whom she co-hosted “Live With Regis and Kathie Lee” from 1985 to 2000, sent a video message to her, wishing her well in her future.
- "Kathie Lee, you want to know the best part of my life, my TV life, the 15 years I spent with you, 1985 to 2000," Philbin said in the video, according to Entertainment Tonight. "We stayed friends throughout the entire game and it was a lot of fun."
- "Where you are right now, I know you are going to be moving on to a great new career making movies, and since I've seen the first one, I know you're going to be a great success, I really mean it," he continued. "I want you to know how I will always remember the great times we had working together and how you are as a person, just great."
- Professional wrestler John Cena, actor Dean Cain and actor Ryan Eggold all showed up for the event as well, according to Today.com.
Bigger picture: According to The Washington Post, Gifford was often mocked by critics for her performances. But her legacy will outlast many of the critics.
- “A lot of people liked her, some didn’t, but she was relatable,” Marc Berman, editor in chief of TV website Programming Insider told The Washington Post. “Everyone had a comment about her. Everyone had an opinion about her. Whether you loved her or hated her, she just resonated.”