WASHINGTON—Television host, actress, singer and author Kathie Lee Gifford says goodbye to the “Today” show and speaks candidly about her decision to go from iconic TV personality to leading lady in an in-depth interview for the April/May issue of AARP the Magazine (ATM).
For the past 11 years, the multi-talented Gifford called Rockefeller Center home. Now, she is flipping the script to live her lifelong dream of singing and making movies. Gifford and close friend Craig Ferguson took it upon themselves to write, produce and co-star in their upcoming film, Then Came You, which follows the story of a widow who takes her husband’s ashes on a trip to the locations of their favorite movies.
The heartbreaking yet hopeful film contains similarities to Gifford’s life, as she lost her husband Frank Gifford in 2015. Since his passing, she has struggled with loneliness and for a period of time, removed herself from all social situations.
When reflecting on the memories shared with her husband at their Long Island home, Gifford reveals to ATM, “Sunset used to be a huge thing in our family. Every day, no matter what, we’d yell, ‘Sunset alert!’ and we had to stop whatever we were doing, go out, and honor another day. And now I still say it out loud to the puppies. We still go out and do it, but sunset alerts are some of my saddest moments when it’s just me and the dogs at home.”
Although recalling these cherished memories is still an emotional experience for Gifford, she continues to remain positive, focusing on her next purpose in life and the possibility of new love. She shares, “I know a lot of people go looking for love, but I think it finds you. So when and if it finds me, I will welcome it literally with open arms.”
The following are excerpts from ATM’s April/May 2019 cover story featuring Kathie Lee Gifford, available in homes starting April and available online now at www.aarp.org/magazine/.
Selections from the Kathie Lee Gifford cover story in ATM’s April/May issue:
On leaving “The Today Show”:
“Maybe it is someone else’s dream job. But there was a more powerful dream within me that had yet to be fulfilled. All I ever wanted to do, from the time I was a little girl, was sing and be in movies.”
On developing her new film:
“Two o’clock in the morning, I woke up and I went, ‘I know what the movie should be!’ I just knew. I got up and started writing. And around noon that day, I called Craig [Ferguson]. I said, ‘Craig, remember that movie that you and I were going to write? Well, I think I just wrote it.’”
On the perception of the elderly in Hollywood:
“I’m considered a senior citizen. But I’ve just decided that at this point in my life, I’m not gonna use my senior discount to go to other people’s movies. I’m gonna make movies for them.”
On being anti-social after losing her husband:
“When you’re part of a couple, you don’t realize that the whole world is just made up of couples. And all of a sudden, you’re that odd number at a dinner party. You’re the fifth, seventh, ninth person at the table. They’re always making an adjustment for you.”
On her faith:
“My faith is not what I do for an hour on Sunday mornings; my faith is who I am. You know, the Bible talks about ‘In him we live and move and have our being.’ That means every nano-second of our life.”
On evolving as an artist and person:
“I’m not reinventing myself at all. I am evolving as an artist and a human being, and I will be till the day I die. People who think I’m a silly person do not know me at all. I’m 10 percent silly and 90 percent dead serious in my life.”
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AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.