Kathie Lee Gifford is saying goodbye to the Today show after 11 years.
In an emotional interview with Entertainment Tonight’s Nischelle Turner, co-hosts Gifford and Hoda Kotb sat down to discuss her exit from the show.
“She’s the best friend you can have,” Gifford teared up while speaking about Kotb. “I consider Hoda one of my dearest forever.”
“The day that I met Kathie, that was big line of demarcation. I feel like everything changed and got better and got happier,” Kotb shared. “I felt more fulfilled and I felt like I took risks that I never thought I could take.”
“My biggest thing was, How could I ever do television at the level I was able to do with Regis [Philbin] and sustain it? … We had done 15 years and we sort of changed the whole paradigm of daytime television,” Gifford explained. “You sort of go, ‘Wow, leave that alone.’ And I just fell in love [with working with Kotb].”
“Hoda is sunshine in a bottle, and I think Hoda came into my life when I think I lost a lot of sunshine,” she continued. “I was kind of weary and worn out from life.”
“It was Frank who said,’ You gotta do it, Kathie.’ he said, ‘She’s wonderful and you guys are gonna be great together… and you’re made for this business and you’ve still got a lot in you to offer,'” Gifford said of how her late husband encouraged her to take the Today show gig. “I was 54 at the time, and I was stunned anybody wanted me then.”
“Oh my god, my mom watching football with Frank Gifford!” Kotb recalled spending Thanksgiving with the Gifford family. “I remember thinking, Some people open their life and let you come in. And some people make you wait outside the door and maybe you never get in. But Kathie has always been open.”
“I think that’s what made life so exciting. It was things we never imagined could be part of our life and they were,” she added.
When asked who would cry the most on Gifford’s last day, Kotb said, “I think it’ll probably be me.”
“She’s going to be fine,” Gifford expressed.
Jenna Bush Hager will replace Gifford for the fourth hour of NBC’s Today. Gifford’s last show airs April 5.