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Why Kathie Lee Gifford Left the TODAY Show — and What She's Up to Now

The former co-host gave an insightful explanation of her departure in 2019. 

By Jackie Manno

Beloved former TODAY Host Kathie Lee Gifford, who was on the show from 2008 to 2019, stopped by the set on March 26 to reunite with her dear friend, Hoda Kotb. And the former co-host even brought along her daughter, Cassidy. 

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The two chatted with Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager and played a fun game of Like Mother, Like Daughter.

And in the sweet clip taken at Rockefeller Plaza, we get to see the two standing outside and laughing together, before Gifford rests her head on Kotb's shoulder.

''When you reunite with your bestie and it's like no time has passed,'' the video reads. 

Why Kathie Lee Gifford left the TODAY Show

Gifford first announced the news in 2018 in an emotional statement on-air. 

"It's an exciting time for me and I'm thrilled about all the projects that are coming up, but it's also hard,” she said. "I've been in this business for 120 years and never worked with a more beautiful group of people who just give, give, give every day." 

She continued, "I thought I would stay one year. Something happened along the way — fell in love with a beautiful Egyptian goddess," she said, referring to Kotb. “We’re going to be friends for the rest of our lives. I’m grateful to God for you.”

While on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in 2019, Gifford explained how suddenly losing her longtime husband, Frank Gifford, in 2015 put her priorities into perspective. 

''For the first time in my life I have the time and the means to go and do anything I want to do. So I've wanted to do these movies,'' she explained to Fallon. ''I'm just having the time of my life. I don't want to be the one using my senior discount to go see a movie. I want to make the movie that the seniors are using their discount to come into,'' she joked. 

RELATED: Hoda Kotb's Daughter Doing Her Mom's Job on TODAY Is the Absolute Sweetest

Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb on Today

Kathie Lee Gifford's other returns to TODAY

Gifford returned to TODAY as a guest seven months after her departure to inform fans how she's been adjusting to life in Tennessee.


''There's a completely different culture down there, and it's a culture of kindness in Nashville, and they're authentically kind. There are some mean ones, I guess, but I don't hang out with them. They're joyful. They have so much fun, music everywhere — everything's Americana," she said. 

In 2021, she made another appearance back on the show to give more updates on her happiness. 

"I'm in a very beautiful season of my life and I could not be more grateful for it. I feel settled. It's rare in life where you think to yourself, 'Is there anything missing?'' she said. 

RELATED: Savannah Guthrie and Her Husband's 10-Year Anniversary Messages Are So Romantic

What is Kathie Lee Gifford up to now?

Kathie Lee Gifford on the red carpet for "The Way" Nashville Premiere

Gifford went on to fulfill her dream of creating a movie, as she wrote the screenplay to the film Then Came You, which was released in 2020. Gifford stars alongside Craig Ferguson, and she plays a recently widowed woman named Annabelle who travels the world with her late husband's ashes. 

In 2021, Gifford received her very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. ''It is a milestone. But I try to keep everything in perspective. It's lovely to be valued and appreciated for what you've done, but every day is a gift to me,'' she said while on TODAY of the accomplishment. 

In November 2023, Gifford became a grandmother for the third time. Her son, Cody, welcomed a boy named Ford with his wife, Erika. Cody also has another son named Frankie, named after Frank Gifford. Kathie Lee's daughter, Cassidy, gave birth to a boy named Finn in June 2023.