Kathie Lee Gifford is sharing her experience with Bill Cosby prior to his conviction and sentencing for sexual assault. In a new interview with PEOPLE after the release of her memoir It's Never Too Late, Gifford shared that the disgraced comedian became a "good friend" when they worked together for two years, but that one night he did cross a line with her.
"He tried to kiss me," she recalled of the encounter. "He was not the first man during a multi-decade career that came on to me, and I'm just very grateful that I never let any of them take it any further than that." Gifford was shocked when the "most admired man in America" made a pass at her, remembering telling him at that moment, "No. Bill, you're my friend."
"He goes, ‘You're right. Good night,'" she continued. "So I found those accusations against him very painful, because that's not the man I knew." Cosby would be sentenced to three to 10 years in state prison by a Pennsylvania judge in September 2018 after being convicted of drugging and sexually assaulting a former Temple University employee in his home in 2004.
"I never saw anybody personally being treated that way by him in two years, traveling all over the country, staying in the same house with him whenever we went to Harris, or in Reno," Gifford said of her time with The Cosby Show star. "We had great fun together, and I never thought a thing of it ever. He would make me cappuccinos, he'd make the girls cappuccinos, he would pour me a glass of wine on occasion, and I would read the stories about how he would put drugs in other women's drinks and it was just foreign to me." Gifford said she never doubted the accounts of Cosby's accusers, noting, "I don't know why he behaved the way he did with the other women, that's their story to tell."
In her memoir, PEOPLE notes that the chapter about the "unusual encounter" with Cosby is an important lesson in "how you think you know somebody." Also in her book, the Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee star explained that while she was "surprised" by the attempted sexual encounter, she didn't "feel panicked," and it didn't soften the blow later when she would learn of Cosby's crimes. "I was as surprised as the rest of the world when, years later, Bill Cosby, at one time the most respected and admired man in America, was accused of all manner of despicable acts with a myriad of women," she wrote.