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Kathie Lee Gifford won over TV audiences with her on-screen chemistry with co-anchor Regis Philbin on The Morning Show. She now co-anchors the Today show.
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In 1996, the human rights group, National labor Committee, reported that child laborers in Honduras were producing Kathie Lee's clothing line for Wal-Mart. She denied all knowledge of Wal-Mart's production tactics and immediately embarked on a mission to advocate for stronger laws against sweatshop labor. She further defended herself by ensuring the public that all of the profits from her clothing line went to Cassidy's Place, a home she set up for AIDS and crack babies. Despite her efforts,
Kathie Lee found herself the butt of jokes for months with her squeaky-clean innocence soiled by the media's attention to her misfortunes.
In 1997, after 10 years of marriage, Kathie Lee received another horrible blow when The Globe tabloid published photographs of her husband with Trans World Airlines flight attendant Suzen Johnson in a New York City hotel room. (The flight attendant was later discovered to have received $75,000 from The Globe to seduce Frank.) Kathie Lee suffered through personal trauma and public embarrassment, but remained with her husband. Her reputation had been, in part, built around her image as the woman who had it all: a highly successful career and a devoted family.
She had become infamous for her constant references to Frank and their children. While her fans loved her candor and intimacy, her critics labeled her personal musings as annoyingly self-righteous. With this scandal Kathie Lee learned the dangers of opening up her personal life to the world. The image of the perfect family had been publicly scrutinized, and she suddenly and immediately became silent and guarded on the topic of her family.
Having weathered the scandals, Gifford has become America's "everywoman." She serves as the spokeswoman for the Home Furnishings Council, Carnival Cruise Lines, Ultra Slim- Fast, and Revlon. In addition she produced her own fitness video, Kathie Lee's Feel Fit and Fabulous Workout; written an autobiography, I Can't Believe I Said That!; runs two charity organizations; and continues to produce albums and sing at venues across the country.
On February 29, 2000, Kathie Lee announced that she would leave Live With Regis & Kathie Lee, now the nation's fourth-highest-rated syndicated talk show, when her contract expired in July 2000. After 11 years on the show, Gifford reportedly decided to spend more time with her family and to concentrate on her musical career. Her last regular appearance on Live aired on July 28, 2000. Years later, Gifford said one of the reasons she decided to leave Live was because her father was terminally ill. Aaron Epstein died on November 19, 2002.
After leaving Live, Gifford released a string of albums including a collection of pop songs called The Heart of a Woman (2000), Born for You (2000), and a collection of children's songs called Party Animals (2002).>Most recently, Gifford has joined co-anchor Hoda Kotb on morning television as a co-anchor of the Today show.
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