As more and more woman accuse film executive Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment, Kathie Lee Gifford is speaking out about her own traumatizing experience as a young actress — with a different Hollywood producer.
On the Today show Monday, Gifford remembered taking a call from someone offering to manage her career in Los Angeles when she was about 21 years old.
“I was like excited, you know?” she told co-host Hoda Kotb. “And I went, ‘Okay.’ I said, ‘I’ll come to your office.’ [He said], ‘Well, that’s under construction. I’m working from home right now, so would you mind coming to my house?’ I had no reason to think not. I didn’t know the man personally, I just knew of him.”
“I get to the house, and the exact same thing happened to me. Exact same thing,” she said, referring to an earlier segment on Megyn Kelly Today with TV reporter Lauren Sivan, who alleges that Weinstein forced her to watch him masturbate in a New York City restaurant 10 years ago.
“And I learned from that. Boy, I felt grateful I got out of there without being raped,” added Gifford, 64. “That’s what you feel like. ‘All right, it was just that. I can live through that.’ But you’re so demeaned, you feel so dirty. More than anything, you know what you feel? Stupid. I just thought, ‘Kathie, you idiot. Never go to somebody’s house.’ That can happen in somebody’s office, too.”
WATCH: Harvey Weinstein Allegedly Masturbated in Front of a TV Reporter
Women including actress Ashley Judd told The New York Times on Oct. 5 that Weinstein, 65, harassed them. Weinstein’s then-attorney Lisa Bloom said in a statement last week that “he denies many of the accusations as patently false.”
He was forced out of his powerhouse film studio Sunday, and stars like Meryl Streep and Judi Dench have condemned his alleged actions. (Weinstein has apologized for his “bad behavior” and vowed to seek professional help.)
Gifford and Weinstein are close, and she offered her take on the allegations.
“I never saw any of this. I’m not saying it didn’t happen. I’m just saying I know a different man, just like I did with Bill Cosby,” she said.
“So, it’s very upsetting to me on a personal level. This is a man I considered a friend. I feel for his family, and I feel for him,” she added. “It’s also upsetting for me as a woman that this kind of behavior is real, and no one ever thinks it’s going to catch up with them.”