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Becoming Kathie Lee Gifford
“I want to be purposeful, every day of my life, every moment of it.”
At 10 years old, Kathie Lee Gifford started the adventure of a lifetime and launched a career as an actor, TV presenter, talk show host, and singer/songwriter—a life lived in the spotlight. In a business bent on reducing women to a set of archetypes, Kathie Lee has always refused simple definitions.
“I may admire another person, but I don’t want to be that person.”
The same certainty of purpose that led her down the aisle to answer an altar call at the age of twelve, also armed her against the entertainment industry’s harshest rejection and allowed her to answer insult and injury with a wink and a smile as she turned her head toward the next opportunity. It landed her on millions of TVs in countless living rooms every morning, and gave her a voice of advocacy, influence and all the shine of the spotlight.
But spotlights are tricky creatures. They illuminate and bring to life, but they can also expose and wash out detail and nuance, leaving room for the noise of assumption and criticism. Spotlights make it hard to find the quiet. They air the most personal of tragedies, amplify doubt and hopelessness, crowding out joy. But, when it comes to hopelessness, Kathie Lee stays in the fight.
“I’ve been in the desert as many times as I’ve been on a mountain top. But, I’ve learned my deepest lessons from the desert.”
Kathie Lee has many stories to tell. She was born in Paris, France and grew up in Maryland. She was a six-year-old girl who wrote a letter to Walt Disney looking for a job. She was a wife for 29 years who loved with purpose, forgiveness and courage. She’s a mother who raised two children to do the same. And she’s a career entertainer who discovered what could happen when she made her own joy non-negotiable, even in the spotlight.