Leave it to Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb to create a glitzy, final, “Today” sendoff for Friday, April 5, to honor the showbiz veteran who has been easing millions of viewers into their days for 26 years. The duo chose to look ravishing in matching red, wearing the Kathie Lee jumpsuit that Hoda claims is now so famous that she cannot wear it going solo. There were points along the last few weeks that became a little too mushy even for Kathie Lee Gifford, who does laughter through tears better than anyone, according to her broadcasting buddy of 11 years.

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KLG and Hoda did their preshow cheer of “Have a great show!” In rapid cadence, but it was the hip-hop artist, Flo Rida, who did the honors of welcoming the live crowd to “Kathie Lee's house” while singing his trademark “My House.” He did the introduction to bring Kathie Lee Gifford to the stage, and she playfully kidded that she still wasn't sure about his name, but still appreciated his presence.

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Chit-chat, friends, fun and games, surprises, songs, and family sitting front and center were all part of the last morning as co-host. There were tender times and memories, and not too many tears.

A special day in many ways

It was evident, from the start, that this final “Today,” co-hosted by Kathie Lee Gifford, was as much for her longtime fans as anyone. The fourth hour was moved from Studio 1A to accommodate the large numbers who wanted to attend, and as the honored host greeted guests in the front row, no one gazed more proudly or not more affection than Cody Gifford, seated alongside his fiancée.

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Kathie Lee's longtime friend, Christine, was also shown on camera but wasn't the one featured in opening conversation.

Kathie Lee described coming home to an enormous, “hugest” bouquet of red roses, yesterday, and running through the possible list of senders in her mind, only to discover that shock jock, Howard Stern, and his wife, Beth, bestowed the gift of blossoms along with heartfelt words for the departing host.

Kathie Lee recalled the testy times between the two, when he “hated my guts,” but also how “I prayed for him every day,” and everyone knows that people who love animals as famously as this couple can’t have immensely dark hearts.

Gifford also had a good time looking back at her days as the featured pitch girl for Carnival Cruise Lines, complete with her full-length commercial. The ladies announced that one lucky audience member would be chosen to receive a cruise, but that presentation just didn't seem enough for Gifford, who smashed her prop bottle literally everywhere, saying “Why can't I do anything in a small way?” Taking a page from the Oprah playbook, Kathie Lee gushed that everyone was getting the cruise prize, much to their delight.

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“You thought you were getting a car,” she teased.

Besides the giveaway fun, Kathie Lee Gifford did get her name lit up on Broadway at the Nederlander Theatre. The prolific songstress hinted that one of her projects will indeed be headed for the stage, but for now, Gifford is delighted to announce the release of her film and music project, “The God Who Sees” released today for free on streaming platforms. “If you like it, help me make the next one,” she encouraged her audience.

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Gushing guests

Special guests were willing to do anything to make her last morning ob “Today” memorable for Kathie Lee Gifford. Dean Cain dressed up as a darling fox, and “New Amsterdam” star Ryan Eggold went so far as being a chicken in his devotion for Kathie Lee.

Being an official senior citizen didn't stop Gifford from having fun with favorite guest host, John Cena before he put her and Hoda to another game show challenge. Longtime fans know and love how terrible KLG are with trivia, even from their own business. They still didn't master much, not even the number of wine glasses they have enjoyed in over a decade, but, of course, Kathie Lee Gifford was declared a champion.

Barry Manilow has been a faithful friend to Kathie Lee Gifford for years, and he made a point of leaving Las Vegas to perform on this special day. Kathie Lee joined him for the final choruses of “Can’t Smile Without You” as Hoda sang with the crowd from side stage. Advancing years and health issues have been a concern for Manilow, but he assured that “I would go anywhere for her,” hugging Gifford. In a “Today” interview last week, Kathie Lee Gifford praised that Barry Manilow and Dolly Parton were stalwart encouragers of her songwriting, always giving honest and supportive feedback.

Regis Philbin wasn’t there in person, but he offered a loving FaceTime session, splurging with praise over Kathie Lee's future as a filmmaker. The audience was treated to a sneak peek of her feature, “Then Came You,” with another close friend and co-star, Craig Ferguson.

The most touching tribute of the morning came from Cody and Cassidy Gifford, who both praised their mother for always maintaining a “normal” home through their young years. Cassidy particularly took to heart her mother's example of kindness, remarking, “you may not be the most talented one in the room, but you can always be the kindest one, and the most hard-working.” That attitude has become a family tradition, and Cody reiterated the advice of his maternal grandfather, to “find something you love and a way to get paid for it.” Both children saw the devotion of loving parents lived out every day in front of their eyes, and Kathie Lee reflected on those lessons on Thursday’s broadcast.

With only 30 seconds for her final words, Kathie Lee Gifford closed with the words from Jeremiah 29:11, relating God’s “good plan” and granting “hope and a future” for every person. The same sentiment and promise are planned and hoped for the woman who has warmed “Today” with laughter, wisdom, faith, tears, and yes, sips of wine, for such a long time.

“I'll be back next week,” she kidded with the crowd. Come back anytime, Kathie Lee. She, Hoda, and a crew of gal pals are off to Nashville for the weekend.

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