Kathie Lee Gifford is back on “Today”.
The former “Today With Kathie Lee and Hoda” co-host returned to the show’s fourth hour on Tuesday, where she dished all about her new life in Nashville — and stepping into the dating pool. Tuesday’s episode marks her first appearance on Today since she left seven months prior, on April 5.
“Kathie Lee is happier now than I remember her,” Hoda Kotb told Jenna Bush Hager at the top of the interview.
“Than I’ve been in years and years!” Gifford agreed. “You know what it is? There’s a completely different culture down there, and it’s a culture of kindness in Nashville, and they’re authentically kind. There are some mean ones, I guess, but I don’t hang out with them. They’re joyful. They have so much fun, music everywhere — everything’s Americana.”
Gifford has been keeping herself busy in Nashville, but revealed that she’s also made some time to go on a few dates. She was snapped by paparazzi dancing with a man at a music festival in July.
“I went out on a couple of dates… [getting caught by paparazzi] was kind of disappointing because I thought, ‘Oh, surely they’re going to leave me alone down here,'” she shared.
“I went out with friends to a club to hear my favorite band down there, Tim Akers and the Smoking Section,” she explained. “So, I went to hear them. And this sweet guy asked me to dance, so I said, ‘OK.’ And then he disappeared into the crowd, I said, ‘OK.’ And then a couple of weeks later, same band …so we danced again. And we just went out a couple of times.”
Gifford was married to Frank Gifford for 29 years, from 1986 until his death in 2015. She said going out in Nashville “was fun, because I hadn’t been on a date in 33 years.”
“It’s surreal because the world’s changed so much,” she continued. “But [my date was] a gentleman, so it was fine. But then I got so busy. We’re just from different worlds.”
In an interview shortly before her “Today” departure, Gifford opened up about the “crippling loneliness” she felt following the deaths of her husband and mother.
“You battle a lot of things when you get older, especially as a widow, when you lose a spouse,” Gifford told AARP The Magazine. “It dawned on me the other day, I’m a widow, I’m an orphan, because my mother also passed and I’m an empty nester all at the same time. If you’re not careful, what you’ve lost in life can define you. It’s so much healthier to be defined by what you still have. I’m making big changes in my life because I need to, really big changes that are feeding my soul. Otherwise, despair sets in and loneliness can be crippling.”
“I didn’t have to stay in this big house anymore,” she adds of her home in Long Island, New York. “I found myself dealing with crippling loneliness. I had to make moves and spiritual moves. You gotta make new memories or the old ones are going to kill you.”
Still, Gifford said it was “lovely” returning to New York — and seeing her old friends at Today on Tuesday. See more on Gifford in the video below.
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Jenna Bush Hager Reveals What Kathie Lee Gifford Gifted Her