Kathie Lee Gifford Tears up While Addressing 'Today' Show Exit With Hoda Kotb

Kathie Lee Gifford is set to make her official exit from the Today show on April 5, and the host got emotional while discussing the upcoming moment during her last sit-down interview with co-host Hoda Kotb before leaving the morning show.

Speaking to Entertainment Tonight, Gifford discussed her friendship with Kotb, calling her co-host "the best friend you can have."

"I consider Hoda one of my dearest forever," she added.

"The day that I met Kathie, that was big line of demarcation," Kotb reflected of Gifford. "I feel like everything changed and got better and got happier. I felt more fulfilled and I felt like I took risks that I never thought I could take."

The two women have been hosting Today's fourth hour together since 2008, and went through emotional highs and lows together, including the death of Gifford's husband, Frank, in 2015.

"Hoda is sunshine in a bottle, and I think Hoda came into my life when I think I lost a lot of sunshine," Gifford said. "I was kind of weary and worn out from life."

"It was Frank who said,' You gotta do it, Kathie,'" the mom of two recalled of taking the Today job. "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.' I was 54 at the time, and I was stunned anybody wanted me then."

Over the years, Gifford and Kotb grew to be such close friends that Kotb spent Thanksgiving with her co-host and her family.

"Oh my god, my mom watching football with Frank Gifford!" she recalled. "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," she added. "It was things we never imagined could be part of our life and they were."

Gifford originally announced her decision to leave the show in December in a memo from NBC News chief Noah Oppenheim.

"In 2008, I joined the TODAY Show family intending to spend one year," Oppenheim quoted Gifford as saying. "But something unexpected happened along the way: I fell in love with a beautiful, talented, extraordinary Egyptian goddess named Hoda, and an amazing group of individuals who work tirelessly and joyfully at their jobs, many of them starting at midnight, creating an unprecedented four hours of live television. I stayed year after year making a million memories with people I will never forget. I leave TODAY with a grateful heart but I'm truly excited for this new creative season in my life. Many thanks to all the wonderful people who made the years fly by."

After Gifford's departure, Kotb will co-host the hour alongside Jenna Bush Hager.


Photo Credit: NBC