Kathie Lee Gifford chose to ‘immediately forgive’ after Frank Gifford’s affair scandal

Kathie Lee Gifford is explaining why she decided to forgive her husband after his affair in 1997.

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, the former “Today” show host explained that the initial shock of Frank Gifford’s infidelity had been hard to overcome, but she did not want to let those feelings fester and control her life.

“I could have let the seed germinate but I don’t want to be that person, that bitter, angry, unhappy, miserable human being ’cause you know what you end up doing? You end up making everybody around you every bit as miserable,” Kathie Lee told the outlet. “I have always felt from my earliest youth that I had the choice every day of my life to be a blessing or a burden, and I want to be a blessing.”

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To this day, she says, she views everything “as a choice,” including forgiving her late husband’s affair with a former flight attendant named Suzen Johnson.

At the time of the affair, the NFL Hall-of-Famer and Kathie Lee’s children, Cassidy and Cody, were very young – their daughter was four and their son was seven. The timing of the scandal was “very painful” for her, but she learned to “practice forgiveness” prior to marrying Frank in 1986.

In 1976, she married Christian composer Paul Johnson. Six years later, in 1982, they divorced, citing irreconcilable differences, according to Entertainment Tonight. Kathie Lee told the outlet that she had walked away from that marriage learning a lot of lessons about letting go of painful moments.

“I’d been married before to a man who betrayed me deeply, and I forgave him right away.  You don’t hold on, don’t wait to forgive … you’re only hurting yourself,” she said. “Immediately forgive because love cannot live where hate does.”

Fast-forward to today, Kathie Lee doesn’t have any regrets about forgiving her late husband for stepping outside their marriage. She told Entertainment Tonight that she still has people approach her on the street and thank her for being open about forgiving her husband, because it allowed them to work through their own marital struggles.

She explains that it’s “toxic” to bottle-up resentment towards your partner.

“It’s a cancer in your soul and I don’t want that. I don’t want it for me, I don’t want it for anyone I love. I want people to be blessed, and we all make our choices,” she said.

“We all make our choices — he [Frank] made a different one than I did, and we all live with them,” she continued. “But I can live with the choices I have made if I have truly experienced a deep and abiding forgiveness of that person.”

In 2020, Kathie Lee released her memoir, “It’s Never Too Late: Make the Next Act of Your Life the Best Act of Your Life,” which detailed Frank’s affair. She told Entertainment Tonight that it was difficult to relive those moments, but she felt it was a necessary element to her life story.

“It’s not a bed of roses. I mean, we struggled after that for a long time. 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 said. “I knew my children would be very, very different people if we had broken up at that time.”

In 2015, Frank died of natural causes at his home in Greenwich, Connecticut. He was 84. 

In her professional life, Kathie Lee is gearing up to release her book, “I Want to Matter: Your Life Is Too Short and Too Precious to Waste” on April 30.


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