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Kathie Lee Gifford

Kathie Lee Gifford

Kathie Lee Gifford (born Kathryn Lee Epstein on August 16, 1953 in Paris, France) is an American singer, songwriter, and actress most famous for her stint on the talk show Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, which she co-hosted with Regis Philbin for 15 years. When she left the show and was replaced with Kelly Ripa, the show was renamed Live with Regis and Kelly. Kathie Lee is the wife of Frank Gifford, a former football player and television commentator.

Her career took off in the 1970s (during her first marriage to Paul Johnson) as a vocalist on the game show Name That Tune with Tom Kennedy (she did the sing a tune segment). Shortly thereafter in 1978, she joined the cast of the short-lived Hee Haw sitcom spinoff, Hee Haw Honeys.

She appeared in TV ads for Carnival Cruise Lines beginning in 1984. The ads were the first for a cruise line to air on network television.

Following her divorce from Johnson in 1983, Kathie Lee met television commentator Frank Gifford during an episode of ABC's Good Morning America. Their romance clicked, and in 1986 they married.

By that time, she was several months into her most famous TV role -- as a full-time morning talk show personality. In 1985, she replaced Cyndy Garvey as co-host of The Morning Show on WABC-TV with Regis Philbin. The chemistry between the cranky Regis and the candid, bubbly Kathie Lee provided stability to a show that had gone through a series of titles and hosts (AM New York, The Stanley Siegel Show) during the previous decade.

The show went national in 1988, as Live with Regis and Kathie Lee and Gifford became a coast-to-coast celebrity. Throughout the 1990s, millions of morning-TV viewers enjoyed her descriptions of life at home with her sportscaster husband and their two children: son Cody Newton Gifford (born in 1990) and Cassidy Erin Gifford (born in 1993). She has been gently ridiculed for constantly talking about her children on the air.

Gifford's religious faith has carried her through several personal crises. In 1996, a human-rights group discovered that sweatshop labor was used to make clothes for the Kathie Lee line, sold at Wal-Mart. She tearfully apologized on air for the situation, and her husband visited the Manhattan sweatshop to give money to the underpaid workers.

She also was embarrassed in 1997 when it was revealed that her husband had an affair (that was photographed and audiotaped) with a former TWA flight attendant, Suzen Johnson. However, the couple went into counseling, she forgave him, and they are still together today.

Gifford rode out the storm of both crises, and Live with Regis and Kathie Lee continued to bring in profits for WABC-TV and the show's syndicator, Buena Vista Television.

After 15 years as Philbin's WABC-TV sidekick, Gifford left Live with Regis and Kathie Lee in 2000 to pursue other interests. She has since made guest appearances in numerous films and television shows, and has several independently released albums on CD, including 2000's The Heart of a Woman.

Her brother is Rev. David Paul Epstein, an evangelical preacher and pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Manhattan.

Beginning in September 2005, Gifford will begin making appearances as a special correspondent on The Insider, a syndicated entertainment-magazine show.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2005.

Kathie Lee Gifford Facts

Birth NameKathie Lee Epstein
BirthdayAugust 16, 1953 (69)
BirthplaceParis, France
Height5' 6" (1m68)  How tall is Kathie Lee Gifford compared to you?

Selected Filmography

Not available.