Inside Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford's 29-Year Love Story
Looking back at the couple's ups and downs during their three decades together
While the legendary NFL player and sportscaster, who died on Sunday at the age of 84, had many successes in his long career, perhaps the thing he could be most proud of was his long and enduring relationship with his wife of almost 29 years.
“We rejoice in the extraordinary life he was privileged to live, and we feel grateful and blessed to have been loved by such an amazing human being,” the Today host said in a statement.
The couple shared a lifetime of memories – some good, some bad – together. Here’s a look back at their love affair.
They met on the set of Good Morning America.
“Right away, she was so much fun,” Frank said in an interview about meeting Kathie Lee Johnson for the first time in 1982. “She was alive and adorable.”
Frank tried to set up Kathie Lee with his best friend.
“I tried desperately to fix her up with one of my best friends,” Frank, who was married at the time, admitted. “That didn’t work out, but we did. Television has been good to me.”
They got married on a beach.
The couple wed on October 18, 1986, in Bridgehampton, New York. He was 53, she was 30. It was her second marriage and his third. “We didn’t fall in love. We really grew in love,” Kathie Lee said in an interview with Entertainment Tonight just before they tied the knot.
Kathie Lee Gifford Speaks of Heartbreak after NFL Legend Husband Frank Gifford Dies
They shared the same birthday.
Frank and Kathie Lee were both born on August 16, albeit 23 years apart. “Somebody asked me if the age difference between us bothered me and I said, ‘Absolutely! I just hope I can keep up with him,’ ” Kathie Lee said. The former sports broadcaster used to visit his wife’s shows so that they could celebrate together.
He comforted Kathie Lee after she suffered a heartbreaking miscarriage.
“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 couple had two children together.
Frank, who had three children from a previous marriage, welcomed two kids with Kathie Lee: son Cody Newton, 25, and Cassidy, 22.
When Frank was asked how he would like to be remembered, parenthood was at the top of his mind.
“First and foremost, a good father who had a job to do and did it well,” he said.
Their marriage almost ended over Frank’s infidelity.
The couple’s relationship went through a rocky patch in 1997, when Frank was unfaithful after a tabloid reportedly paid a woman thousands to lure the football hero to a hotel room and seduce him.
“If I had run when Frank had his temporary insanity, which he was set up for let’s face it, then our children wouldn’t have their father,” Kathie Lee said. “A very dear friend told me when I was going through the hardest time about it, he said, ‘If you can’t forgive your husband, forgive your children’s father.’ Too many families break up over something that could be healed if they just stay there and trust God to do a healing in their life.”
Frank could not have been more proud of his wife.
“She’s really honest and real. Kathie, to my knowledge, never said anything she didn’t mean or intend to say,” he said about his wife. He later admitted, “I know her heart and I know her soul. She wouldn’t hurt anyone.”