Kathie Lee Gifford was married to Frank Gifford for 29 years before he passed away in 2015.
Not many couples are able to move on from mistakes like infidelity, but some people manage to build the trust back. Kathie Lee Gifford and Frank Gifford were one such couple. Kathie, 69, was married to Frank for 29 years before he passed away in 2015. Their relationship wasn't the most perfect one. However, despite scandals, they stayed together and made it work.
They met while working on Good Morning America and became friends. It took them another four years to start dating each other. The couple married in 1986 and had two kids, Cody and Cassidy, now 33 and 30, as per the Los Angeles Times. Their life seemed perfect on paper despite the 23-year age gap. They even shared their birthday.
In 1994, they battled a scandal about their business. Kathie-branded clothes were being made in factories in Honduras where child labor was being used. Initially, the couple denied the reports but acknowledged the truth publicly later. However, their marriage took a hit when the Globe published a report in 1997 that said Frank had an affair with a married flight attendant, Suzen Johnson. The TV sports commentator, who had initially denied the report, came clean when the tabloid published photos and a transcript from a video.
"This experience has been as painful for us as it would be for any other couple,” the Giffords said at the time in a statement back then. "However, we will get through this together. We ask that our privacy be respected at this difficult time," they said.
Kathie, in her recent book, It's Never Too Late: Make the Next Act of Your Life the Best Act of Your Life, wrote about their struggle after this scandalous news became public.
She said she "didn’t want to" revisit the affair as they "struggled after that for a long time," writes Today. However, the TV presenter couldn't leave this event out of her memoir. "It's not a bed of roses... He knew that I would never again be exactly the same as I was before I knew the truth of what he had done," she told ET.
"But we stayed together, we saved our marriage, we saved -- by God's grace -- our children," she continued. "I knew my children would be very, very different people if we had broken up at that time. But all these years later, I hear from people all the time who say I'm still married because of what you went through."
She told Today, "It takes a lifetime to build that kind of friendship and history together and trust and it takes one stupid decision to destroy it. Sometimes you run out of time to build it up again." She added, "I was grateful that we could."
Kathie had to relearn her relationship after he cheated on her. She didn't think of him as her "hero anymore" and it took seeing a therapist to forgive and move forward.
"He said words that are now emblazoned on my heart: 'Kathie, if you can’t forgive your husband, forgive your children’s father,'" she recalled. "It was a revelatory moment. It took my eyes off of me and set them squarely on my children, who were still completely unaware of their father’s unfaithfulness. My children’s father was a wonderful, loving, gentle, compassionate, generous, and sweet man. He was easy to forgive because I knew his heart," she added.
The couple stayed married until 2015 when Frank died at the age of 84. She was devastated at her loss but she was also expecting it. "The last three years were tremendous," Kathie told PopCulture.com in 2019. "Frank died four years ago. And I was pretty good about that, because I was expecting it. Not as suddenly as it happened, but he'd been failing. He was one week shy of 85 when he passed. He was still in great shape, still working out. He could remember every single person he'd ever played football with on every team. But it was the recent memory things that were starting to happen. We had his brain given to science for study because of all the injuries and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) and all of that."
Cover image source: Getty Images | Photo by (L) Thos Robinson (R)Evan Agostini