Why We'll Miss Kathie Lee

In the history of talk-show hosts, has a host ever talked more than Kathie Lee Gifford? Her dogs, her husband, her kids, her stretch marks--and that was all before the first commercial. Since the day she joined Regis Philbin on "The Morning Show" (as "Live!" was called in 1985), Gifford has been off and running her mouth. She's made plenty of enemies. In a TV Guide poll, readers said Kathie Lee would be the first person they'd vote off the island on a celebrity version of "Survivor." But she's also got tons of fans, and rightfully so. When America was just learning to spill its guts to Oprah and Geraldo, Kathie Lee showed people it was OK to open up about life's triumphs and troubles--from bad hair days to a spouse's infidelity. As Gifford leaves "Live!" next week to have more time to perform, NEWSWEEK looks back at her career. Told, via vintage Kathie quotes, in her own words--of course.

JUNE 24, 1985
Kathie Lee Debuts With Regis On 'The Morning Show'
I called Rege a jerk that first week. Nobody had ever called the king a jerk on the air. And we were off and running. I just loved the guy... Of course, there are moments he'd like to rip my head off. You cannot sit next to each other five days a week and fake anything. I mean, I can't.

MARCH 22, 1990
Cody Gifford, Kathie And Frank's Son, Is Born
I talked about the universal things that my kids have done: getting a bath, telling a story, vomiting, bowel movements, whatever--just human stuff. We wouldn't have been on the air for 15 years as successfully as we've been if more people didn't like it than did... I think if you abuse your children or manipulate them--or if they don't enjoy it--you shouldn't... I didn't. I let them be a part of my life. I have been in the spotlight. That's a choice I made... Something wrong with having your children on your Christmas special? Who should I have? Pee-wee Herman?

APRIL 29, 1996
The Kathie Lee Sweatshop Scandal Breaks
When I first heard that children were being exploited making my clothes, it was like a kick in the gut. But the most painful moment came that night at home when the news shows were on. Cody came up to me and said, "Mommy, why are they saying that you're such a bad lady?" That devastated me. You can say I'm ugly. You can say I'm untalented. But when you say I don't care about children--how dare you.

MAY 10, 1997
Frank Gifford Is Embroiled In A Scandal Regarding A Flight Attendant Paid By A Tabloid To Seduce Him
You expect to be brokenhearted by your enemies, not by the person you trust most... I could never defend what he did. That's indefensible. But it was an isolated incident in a very good life... I would have been the lowest human being on the face of the earth not to forgive. When you love someone and see them in the deepest pain in their life, you kick them when they're down? That's not love. But we still had to do the work to get back. We stayed home, we stayed in bed--I'm being very specific. Each time you make love, that person feels forgiven, and you feel restored and loved again.

FEB. 29, 2000
Kathie Lee Announces She's Leaving 'LIVE! With Regis & Kathie Lee'
About a year and a half ago, Lily Tomlin came on our show. And I remember sitting there opposite Lily and interviewing her for about the 10th time in 10 years. And I remember saying, "I don't want to interview Lily Tomlin one more time." It was a magnificent 15 years in so many ways. It opened so many doors. It was the perfect job for me to have when my children were little, because I could be home at 11 o'clock, take them to school, take them to lunch. Now they're going to be in school full time this coming fall, and I am getting very cranky and very bored... I am bored with it all--except the host chat. I never get tired of being with Regis. We've been through so much together... He knows I adore him. He knows I'm thrilled for his success. I guess people just can't believe the truth, which is I am just tired of doing the show. It's the right time.

Why We'll Miss Kathie Lee | News