Kathie Lee Gifford on Bill Cosby Allegations: 'I Never Saw It Personally'

The Today show cohost, who opened for Cosby for two years, says she just wants the embattled comedian "to come out and say something"

Photo: Getty

As more women come forward to accuse Bill Cosby of sexual assault, Kathie Lee Gifford, who opened for the comedian for two years in the late ’70s, confirms that he never acted inappropriately with her – and doesn’t know what to make of the latest allegations against him.

“In the two years I saw a steady parade of all kinds of people going in and out of his house and his dressing room, but Bill was good to people, very generous to people,” Gifford told PEOPLE at the Citymeals-on-Wheels 28th Annual Power Lunch for Women in N.Y.C. on Friday. “I personally never saw him treat a woman the way it’s been alleged, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen – I never saw it.”

Gifford, 61, says she often stayed in houses with him when they traveled, instead of staying at the hotels where they were working.

“If we were at Harrah’s in Las Vegas, Mr. Harrah always had a house for Bill and we’d settle into our hotel rooms and Bill would call me and my sister and my backup singer and say, ‘Why don’t you girls come over, we’ll play some tennis,’ ” she recalled. “So we would play tennis when we weren’t working, we would sit and have meals, every time we came offstage after opening for him he had made us cappuccinos – and yet, at the same time, you hear the rumors. I never saw it personally, so I can’t say yay or nay.”

Gifford spoke alongside her Today cohost Hoda Kotb, who turned to Gifford during the interview and asked: “You’re not saying he’s a terrific guy all around?”

“No, no, no,” said Gifford in response. “Nobody is – nobody’s perfect. You know, it’s ugly. It’s just ugly.”

Kotb also weighed in on the scandal, noting the comedian’s silence regarding the allegations as compared to how outspoken he’s been about other issues.

“What everyone probably wants to hear is what he has to say about it,” Kotb told PEOPLE. “Because you’re in a vacuum: You’re seeing one woman, and then another, and then another, and then another.”

“When you’re held up as America’s Dad and you’re speaking to members of the black community and saying, ‘Pull up your pants and act like a real man,’ you want your actions to reflect your words,” Kotb added.

Like Kotb, Gifford believes Cosby should address the allegations directly.

“You don’t want the hypocrisy,” says Gifford. “I just want him to come out and say something, defend himself or tell the truth as these women see it.”

On Friday, Cosby’s lawyer released a strongly worded statement defending his client and bashing the recent allegations against the legendary comedian.

“The new, never-before-heard claims from women who have come forward in the past two weeks with unsubstantiated, fantastical stories about things they say occurred 30, 40 or even 50 years ago have escalated past the point of absurdity,” said attorney Martin Singer as part of the statement.

Gifford, meanwhile, says she’s simply struck by the sadness of the story.

“It’s a tragedy on either side,” she adds. “If the allegations are true, it’s a tragedy for these women. If the allegations are not proven to be true, it’s a tragedy for Bill, who had an incredible legacy.”

Want more stories like this?

Sign up for our newsletter and other special offers:

sign me up

Thank you for signing up!

Related Articles