Editor's note: This story was first published in 2015. We're celebrating it again on the day Kathie Lee announced she'll be stepping down from TODAY in 2019.
When Kathie Lee Gifford was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame Tuesday night, the TODAY anchor’s emotional speech touched on varying parts of her career — expressing appreciation for her former co-host Regis Philbin, and joking that she turned Hoda Kotb from “Dateline Hoda” to “Happy Hour Hoda.”
But it was Gifford’s candid talk about her upbringing, and her touching mention of her own children, Cody and Cassidy, that caused her to grow teary-eyed, referring to herself as the most grateful and the most blessed woman on the planet.
Gifford said her parents encouraged her to embrace her talents, releasing her into the world to soar. Her dad, in fact, was responsible for 5-year-old Gifford landing her first paying singing gig — offering her $5 to sing at his mother’s birthday party.
“The other thing my daddy used to say was, ‘Find something you love, and then figure out a way to get paid for it,'” said Gifford.
“My daddy understood that real success in life is not the trophies on your walls — those things are lovely, they’re wonderful…but it’s the people you meet along the way, the lives you touch, it’s the way you can use whatever gifts you have to make this world a better place — what I like to call bringing shalom to chaos,” she continued.
As she brought her speech to a close, an emotional Gifford thanked her late husband, Frank, calling him an “incredible husband,” and saying that he was the most generous man she had ever met.
“He gave me the two greatest gifts that any human being could ever have, and that’s their children. My children make me a better person every day,” she said. “The hardest thing in the world to do is raise two people in this world we live in today — who love God, who love their country — I guess they’ve done a lot of bad stuff, but I don’t know about it and I don’t want to know, all right? They haven’t written the book yet, OK?”
Gifford ended her speech by thanking Cody and Cassidy, who later accepted an award on behalf of their father.
“I am truly the most blessed woman on the earth,” said Gifford.