by Jess Cohen | Tue., Dec. 11, 2018 7:14 AM
Kathie Lee Gifford has announced that she's leaving the Today show after 11 years.
The beloved host will be departing the morning show on her 11th anniversary in April 2019. Gifford, who joined Today in 2008, made the emotional announcement on Tuesday alongside her longtime partner, friend and co-host, Hoda Kotb.
"I have something to share with everybody, and it's bittersweet, as these things always are," Gifford began. "I've been here almost 11 years—thought I would stay here one year. Something happened along the way: I fell in love with a beautiful Egyptian goddess. And now, when it's our 11th anniversary I'm going to be leaving the Today show."
"I know. It's an exciting time for me and I'm thrilled about all the projects that are coming up," Gifford continued. "But it's also hard, because the reason I stayed longer than a year is because I love everybody so much."
Prior to joining Today, Gifford had a longtime run alongside Regis Philbin on Live With Regis and Kathie Lee.
"I've been in this business 120 years and never worked with a more beautiful—more beautiful—group of people, who work every day for four hours of live television every day, five days a week," Gifford continued. "And we have fun and we laugh and we support one another. We know each other's kids' names. We know when someone's having a colonoscopy. We know everything! And we do life together. We do life together. And nobody more so than my Hoda, who [chokes up]—it's going to happen the same way it did with Regis."
"You know, when I left Regis, it was hard, but I'm closer to him now than we were after 15 years together," Gifford shared. "You don't share that kind of life together and not be changed forever by it. so, I love you Hoda Mama. First you were just Hoda. remember? You were always Coda to Regis. But you're just so special. Thank you. Thank you so much."
Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
Kotb went on to tell her pal Gifford, "The minute you stepped into my life with both feet, everything changed. [chokes up] I thought about it. I knew today was happening; I was scribbling in my journal about you...I just was writing everything down and I thought about the day you chose me. And that's how it started."
"And so, I was thinking about [how] everything good that's happened in my life has happened since you came," Kotb continued. "I was even thinking about everything. I met Joel because I had to make a speech. Why did I have to make a speech? Because I worked here and because I worked with you. I wouldn't have been there that day I met him. Haley came as a result of our union, me and Joel. Everything happened."
Kotb went on to recall, "I remember thinking about, 'How does one person step in your life and change it like that?' You did that for me. I remember on the very first day when you said, 'I'm thinking about coming to the Today show,' and I still remember you said, 'I want you to come out and meet my family.' I remember thinking, 'Wow, I've never worked with anyone who's like that.' I didn't even know that was a thing. So, I went to your house, and I remember Frank said to me, 'I've been in television for a while, and I want to tell you something: The only way a show works is if you trust that someone's going to catch you.' He said, 'I don't know about you, 'cause I don't know you, but I know that you are about to work with the most trustworthy person on Earth.' He was right. Because our show is about catching each other when you fall down. That's it."
Gifford then thanked viewers for watching them over the years.
"I want to thank everybody who's watched us all these years as well, because we started out as a nothing burger," Gifford said. "And we were outside on the plaza and the wind was blowing and the cards were flying. It was a disaster!"
"We started going to lunch every Wednesday and Broadway matinees," Gifford continued. "Next thing you know, you and your mom are at my house for Thanksgiving...You start sharing life and your friendship shows up on the air. We weren't colleagues for very long. We became friends. And now we're going to be friends for the rest of our lives. I'm just grateful to God for you. Grateful to God for you. God has used in my life every bit as he's used me in yours. That's the way it goes. No crumbs on the table."
"Anyway, thank you again everybody for loving us and supporting us," she concluded. "I know somebody wonderful will be sitting in this seat afterwards. I have my idea of who might be absolutely wonderful, but there's a great pool of talent and beauty and heart around here, right within our own family. And if they come from outside the family they will soon become family because you all treat everybody that way..."
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