Kathie Lee Gifford stunned fans last December when she confirmed that she was leaving “Today” after more than a decade on the morning show.
Now, the countdown has officially started for the 65-year-old’s departure. Gifford confirmed she will be leaving the show on April 5, just six weeks away.
The host joked on Monday’s show that some people couldn’t wait for her to leave, but Gifford actually has a flood of support behind her.
After the announcement, a number of Gifford’s friends delivered encouraging messages in a touching tribute segment, Entertainment Tonight reports.
Former “Today” anchor Katie Couric said in her video message:
“First of all, I wanna say thank you for putting yourself out there. For sharing yourself and your wisdom and your extraordinary spirit.”
Her former “Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee” co-star, Regis Philbin also said some kind words:
“Kathie Lee, you wanna know the best part of my life? It was 15 years I spent with you.”
Other television stars including Andy Cohen, Jerry Springer, and Jay Leno also took part in the sweet tribute segment.
Gifford seemed touched when the messages from her friends ended. She told co-host, Hoda Kotb:
“How nice, thank you, everybody. They’re all friends, that’s the nice thing, you know? I respect them and I appreciate them every bit as much. So thank you, I love you. Gosh, this is going to be the worst six weeks ever.”
On Tuesday, it was confirmed that Jenna Bush Hager will take over Gifford’s spot during the fourth hour of “Today.”
Hager, daughter of former president George W. Bush, said:
“It feels humbling and I can’t believe it. My dad just wrote me three words which made me weep: ‘very proud dad.’ Which I’m like, what is there to be proud about? I’m just drinking wine in the morning!”
The 37-year-old told Gifford that she was a big inspiration:
“You have been such a role model and so generous with your time. … You are beloved here in so many ways and if I can use some of your grace and have a half of what you’ve done, my life will be a very happy one.”
Gifford told Hager, “You earned it.”
Watch the video below:
— TODAY with Hoda & Jenna (@HodaAndJenna) February 26, 2019