Kathie Lee Gifford Announces She Is Leaving The 'Today' Show

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Kathie Lee Gifford Announces She Is Leaving The 'Today' Show

Kathie Lee Gifford/Instagram

After more than a decade of co-hosting the fourth hour of the Today show, it is hard to imagine tuning in to NBC in the morning and not seeing Kathie Lee Gifford next to Hoda Kotb.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and this holds true for Lee's role as a co-anchor, a position she held since 2008.

On Tuesday, much to the dismay of her fans and colleagues, the longtime TV personality announced that she will be leaving the show.

"I stayed year after year making a million memories with people I will never forget. I leave Today with a grateful heart but I'm truly excited for this new creative season in my life. Many thanks to all the wonderful people who made the years fly by," an emotional Gifford said.

Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb on the Today show
Nathan Congleton/NBC

Gifford's fans will be happy to know that she plans to stay on the program until April 7, 2019, which happens to be the 11th anniversary of the show.

Fighting back tears, the 65-year-old credited her co-host and longtime friend for helping make the show a success.

"We're going to be friends for the rest of our lives. I'm grateful to God for you," Kathie Lee told Kotb, whom she called her "beautiful Egyptian goddess."

"The minute you stepped into my life, everything changed," Hoda recalled. "I remember thinking, how does one person step into your life and change it like that? And you did that for me."

Minutes before Gifford shared the "bittersweet" news with the viewers, NBC News chief Noah Oppenheim sent a memo to the staff, revealing some of the reasons why Gifford, whom he called a "legend," made the decision to quit.

"As we all know, Kathie Lee's plate has been overflowing lately with film, music and book projects, and after giving us eleven extraordinary years, she's decided to focus her attention full-time on those other creative endeavors,"  Oppenheim wrote in the internal email.

Gifford reassured fans that "it's an exciting time for me and I'm thrilled about all the projects that are coming up, but it's also hard," adding, "I've been in this business for 120 years and never worked with a more beautiful group of people who just give, give, give every day."

So what's next for the fourth hour?

Oppenheim promised that the network "will have much more to share before [Gifford's departure] about our plans for that hour." He confirmed that the new plans will "of course, continue to include Hoda [Kotb]."

There's no denying that Today's fourth hour will not be the same without Gifford, but we're looking forward to whatever she has in store next.

Will you miss watching Kathie Lee Gifford on TV?

Blair isn't a bestselling author, but she has a knack for beautiful prose. When she isn't writing for Shared, she enjoys listening to podcasts.