Kathie Lee Gifford opens up about forgiving late husband Frank after affair

Kathie and Frank, who had a 23-year age gap, remained together until his passing in 2015.

Pop Culture & Art April 25, 2024

Kathie Lee Gifford shared her experience coping with a painful chapter in her life: her late husband's infidelity.

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight's Rachel Smith about her new book, "I Want to Matter: Your Life Is Too Short and Too Precious to Waste," the 70-year-old former Today Show anchor revealed the challenges she faced in forgiving and moving forward after learning about Frank Gifford's affair.

Frank Newton Gifford, Kathie's late husband, was an American football player, actor, and television sports commentator. He passed away on August 9, 2015, of natural causes, remaining by Kathie's side until his passing.

“My faith was definitely tested the most during the whole year dealing with Frank’s infidelity because I thought that I had finally found my soulmate,” Kathie Lee said in an interview with the outlet.

Kathie and Frank were married in 1986 when Kathie was 33 and Frank was 56. (Image: Getty Images)

Kathie and Frank were married in 1986 when Kathie was 33 and Frank was 56. (Image: Getty Images)

"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," she shared. 

Kathie Lee said she views everything "as a choice," including love, forgiveness, and giving up on a marriage, which they refused to do following Frank's 1997 affair with Suzen Johnson, a former flight attendant.

The months and years after the affair broke, when their children Cassidy and Cody were just 4 and 7 years old, were  "very painful" for Kathie. However, she had learned to "practice forgiveness" before marrying Frank.

Frank, Kathie Lee, Cody and Cassidy Gifford (Image: Getty Images)

Frank, Kathie Lee, Cody and Cassidy Gifford (Image: Getty Images)

Prior to their 1986 wedding, Kathie Lee was married to Christian composer Paul Johnson. They wed in 1976 but split in 1982 due to irreconcilable differences, as detailed in her 2020 memoir. 

Kathie Lee told Entertainment Tonight that she learned many lessons from their failed marriage, including the importance of absolution in the face of turmoil.

"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," Kathie Lee said.

She added, "Immediately forgive because love cannot live where hate does."

These days, Kathie Lee finds peace in knowing that while it may have been a rocky road at the time, her story of forgiving Frank has helped many others. People still approach her on the street to share how her experience has helped them work through their own marriage difficulties.

Talking about dwelling on the past, Kathie said, "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."


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