Hoda Kotb gave Kathie Lee Gifford a heads-up this morning, February 18, that an extra-special look back at her 55 years in show business was coming on “Today,” and Kathie Lee wasn’t exactly beaming with smiles. She declared that the only bad thing about the days on the calendar going by was that “it's winding down” to her last day after the April 11 celebration of 11 years of her morning partnership with “my Egyptian goddess,” Kotb.

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Kotb, the full-time co-anchor of “Today,” remarked that even after saying it, she couldn't get her head around “55 years of show business.” “Were you in fifth grade?” she asked Gifford, who explained that she got paid $5.00 to sing at a family function for her grandmother, and other gigs came from there.

Kathie Lee has no qualms about calling herself a “dinosaur” at 65, but the candid and cheery co-host also describes herself as ever “growing” and “evolving.”

Along with the resurgence of her songwriting and music over the past year, she has taken the leap into film production and starring in her independent film, “Then Came You,” and other projects are in the works.

Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford have just about seven more weeks together on Today and a forever friendship. [Image source: TODAY-YouTube]
Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford have just about seven more weeks together on Today and a forever friendship. [Image source: TODAY-YouTube]

She also has discovered a new purpose in advocating for widows through her creative projects and still believes that her greatest love may yet come in her life, even after the passing of her beloved husband, Frank Gifford.

Foolishness and fun in fashion

Kathie Lee Gifford was abundantly honest about her feelings in some of the coming fashion trends for 2019, such as asymmetrical jeans, with one straight leg and one flared “bell bottom.” The now officially senior star also said that the “inside-out” look previewed for jeans would be “darling if you’re young,” but not finding a place in her closet.

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She's no fan of the silver hair trend, either, simply insisting that “if you're young, you can do anything.”

Gifford’s strongest reaction was saved for a combination sneaker-sandal in orange and gray, which she proclaimed “the ugliest shoe in the world,” with no dissenters. Hoda Kotb gave her own declaration that Kathie Lee was “hot” in her black and white, above-the-knee dress done with cheerleader pleats. Gifford was even game to do a little fashion walk with a shimmy, saying it doesn't matter what people say or how old a person is, so long as a person has fun in what she or he wears.

The years fly by

Fun was a very prominent word for Kathie Lee Gifford as she reflected back on 55 years spent “making people happy” since being born “with a pratfall and a rim shot” in the old showbiz tradition. She took her father's words to heart when he admonished her to find something she loved and then find a way to get paid for it. Kathie Lee and her sister were regularly booked as folk singers, loving the music of Joan Baez, Peter Paul and Mary, and James Taylor.

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Gifford’s first nod at nationwide recognition came in 1977 as Kathie Lee Johnson, when she became the “Name That Tune” game show singer. She was the only performer auditioned for the job, and she learned 200 songs “in three days,” helped by the bubbly smile that never seemed to vanish.

The veteran song and dance girl knew she wasn't meant to be a hard-nosed journalist after her stint with “Good Morning America.” She asked her agent to get her a tryout for the open position of co-host with Regis Philbin for a new launch of the “Live” morning show.

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Almost instantly, the pair found kismet with a natural fit of talking back to each other and “talking about real things in our lives” like had never been approached on television. “We never had writers,” Gifford surprisingly reveals. She recalls going through her pregnancies with children Cody and Cassidy on-air, and how the spontaneity shared between her and Philbin inspired him to don a “pregnancy belly,” both on the morning show and through midtown New York. “We had fun!” recalls Kathie Lee Gifford, and the fun quotient played a huge part in her chemistry with Hoda Kotb.

Both broadcast BFF’s have given their own accounts of being outdoors on the Plaza and having all their cards for the initial show blown away by the wind. Fate had a hand in that unexpected flurry because it was off-camera that Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb “did life” and truly found friendship.

Gifford knew just how real that bond of friendship became through the loss of her husband and her mother, and through Hoda’s adoption journey to find the daughter, Haley Joy, who inspired her book “I've Loved You Since Forever.”

Kathie Lee Gifford has maintained her status as a morning favorite for decades now, and in between, there have been movies, commercials, motherhood, and captivating cruise ship audiences, too. Hoda and Kathie Lee had their heads on each other's shoulders after the retrospective, and the memories provided the perfect opportunity for Gifford to “do laughter through tears,” which Kotb asserted as her best talent.

Gifford was still a little choked up a little later during a finance segment and had to go off-camera for her cough. She showed no sign of being verklempt later.

No matter how nice it is to tour memory lane, these touching tributes require too many tissue boxes for now. Kathie Lee still has about seven weeks before her farewell, and word is that Al Roker is working overtime to prompt her to a change of heart.

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