On Sunday, it was announced that Frank Gifford has died. The former New York Giants player and sportscaster is remembered for his success on the field and in the media – and for his marriage to much-beloved talk show host, Kathie Lee Gifford.
“We rejoice in the extraordinary life he was privileged to live,” said a statement from the Gifford family. “And we feel grateful and blessed to have been loved by such an amazing human being.”
Kathie Lee often invoked Frank’s name while hosting the fourth hour of the “Today” show. He visited her shows on her birthday (which is his birthday, too) and acted as her temporary co-host from time to time throughout her career. Together they’ve avoided rumors about indiscretions, but shared their personal life with TV audiences.
“Frank and I were planning our second baby to be… to come… this fall… this spring… I just wanted to tell everybody myself,” Kathie Lee said on “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee” in 1992. “Until you experience [a miscarriage] yourself, you really don’t understand the heartbreak of it.”
Five years ago, Frank told the story of how they got together in a video for the Archive of American Television.
“I didn’t like getting up in the morning,” he said about filling in as a host for “Good Morning America.” “Couple times I did it on the way home. Seemed to make more sense. I left PJ Clarke’s at 1 or 2 in the morning, I had to be in there at 5, so why go home?”
On one of those nights-turned-early mornings, he met Kathie Lee.
“Right away she was so much fun. She was so alive and adorable,” he said.
He tried to fix her up with one of his best friends. They all went to lunch together.
It didn’t work out.
“But we did,” Frank said. “So television has been good to me.”
They were married in 1986, on a beach in Bridgehampton, N.Y. It was her second marriage, his third.
Describing his wife’s appeal to viewers, he said, “She’s honest. She’s honest and real. To my knowledge Kathie has never said anything she didn’t mean or intend to say.”
Later in the interview, he’s asked, “How would you like to be remembered?”
He answered, “First and foremost, as a good father. Who had a job to do and he did it well. A better husband this time than I was the other time. Somebody who cared passionately about playing the game, reporting it properly, kept my life in the right perspective. Never believed I was something I wasn’t. And rarely believed I was what I was.”