Entertainment

The Wackiest Moments from 11 Years of Kathie Lee on 'Today'

Her on-air announcement and farewell to co-host Hoda was unpredictably touching.

by Kara Weisenstein
Dec 11 2018, 6:38pm

Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC

After hosting alongside Hoda Kotb for 11 years, Kathie Lee Gifford announced she's leaving the Today Show in an emotional live segment Tuesday. The co-hosts cried so much during Gifford's speech that the crew dropped in a box of Kleenex for the duo.

Gifford said she only meant to host the fourth hour of Today with Kotb for a year, but the gig ended up lasting over a decade, because she "fell in love with a beautiful Egyptian goddess." The talk show star added that she also stayed on because she feels close to the tight-knit crew that produces Today, characteristically noting, "We know when somebody's having a colonoscopy. We know everything! We do life together. And nobody more so than my Hoda."

Gifford is known (and beloved by many) for her outsize personality. She and Kotb became known for hosting the final hour of Today with huge glasses of wine (embossed with their names) sitting on their desk, replacing the coffee cups usually favored by anchors.

Gifford said she's leaving the show because she's busy with other projects, particularly, starring in an upcoming movie called Love Me To Death (which she also wrote). The film was partly inspired by losing her husband, former pro football player Frank Gifford, in 2015. At 65, she's had a lengthy broadcasting career; before Today, Gifford co-hosted Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee alongside Regis Philbin from 1985 to 2000.

Gifford's stint with Kotb on Today, however, took her to a new level; the chumminess between the two women laid the groundwork for a plethora of hysterical, viral, and often cringeworthy on-air moments over the years.

That time Kathie Lee didn't know what "an Arcade Fire" was

When Arcade Fire won the Grammy for Album of the Year in 2011 over the likes of more mainstream artists like Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Eminem, the Today hosts were... befuddled, because they'd never heard of the band, inspiring the incredible quote, "That's not a good thing when you have a fire in an arcade," and spawning the "Who Is Arcade Fire??!!?" tumblr page.

All those times she hated the music on iHoda's playlist

Part way through Macklemore's "Thrift Shop," Gifford asked, "Is there much more?"

When she fangirled over Mel Gibson

When Gibson was working the press circuit for his film Hacksaw Ridge in 2016, Gifford spent many, many minutes praising him for making movies with religious themes. “You rarely see authentic portrayals of people of faith," Gifford said to the man who also directed The Passion of the Christ and was recorded drunkenly spouting anti-Semitic insults.

Notably, this is just one example of Gifford being outspoken about her right-leaning religious beliefs. In 2013, on her podcast called Kathie Lee and Company, Gifford spent the better part of an hour having a mutual gushfest with Glenn Beck. And in 2012, Gifford wrote a uniformly-panned musical about a real-life female celebrity evangelical preacher, called Scandalous: The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson.

The time she had lunch with Liza Minnelli

The segment was about the rise in popularity of dining solo, which Kathie Lee attributes to the invention of smartphones.

When she humped the air on live TV

It was for a fitness challenge, but Gifford did scream, “I’ve had more experience at this,” while thrusting.

That time Hoda and Kathie Lee wore dog suits to beg for Facebook likes

I guess anything makes sense after three glasses of Merlot. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

When they discussed their pubic hair on-air

Kathie Lee keeps things au naturel down there, while Hoda sports a "landing strip." Okay!

When they talked about penis size on-air

Apparently the average erect penis is the same size as a sharpie?

When they got plastic surgery... on air

Gifford got an eye lift and Kotb had her arm hair lasered off. And about halfway through the segment Hoda says, "I need wine."

Suffice to say, we'll miss Gifford's on-air hijinks—The Today Show won't be as wild or boozy without her. She's like that drunken aunt who's accidentally witty and kinda problematic but who you love seeing at Thanksgiving, because she makes the mundanity of existence (and family gatherings) fun. Here's to you, Kathie Lee. We hope wherever you work next, there's a giant wine glass with your name on it awaiting you.

This post was made possible by Jezebel's admirable dedication to chronicling Kathie Lee's exploits over the years.

Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.

Follow Kara Weisenstein on Twitter.