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Kathie Lee Gifford addresses husband Frank's headline-making 'painful' affair with flight attendant

The former Today Show host's late husband had an affair with Suzen Johnson in 1997

Beatriz Colon
Beatriz Colon - New York
New York WriterNew York
25 April 2024
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Kathie Lee Gifford is reflecting on her decision to forgive and stay with her late husband Frank Gifford after his scandalous affair came to light.

The former LIVE with Regis and Kathie Lee host was married to the former football player from 1986 until his passing aged 84 in 2015, and together they had two children, Cody, 34, and Cassidy, 30.

Speaking with Entertainment Tonight while promoting her new book, I Want to Matter: Your Life Is Too Short and Too Precious to Waste, the former Today Show star explained how her decision to forgive Frank after the 1997 affair was largely driven by her hopes for her children.

"I could have let the seed germinate," she first said, before explaining: "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 added: "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."

At the time, her children were ages four and seven, and though she said she and Frank "struggled after that for a long time," she emphasized: "I knew my children would be very, very different people if we had broken up at that time."

Kathie Lee And Frank Gifford Attending Barbara Taylor Bradford's Christmas Party, December 9, 1998© Getty
Kathie Lee and Frank a year after the affair

Further elaborating on her decision to forgive, she said: "Immediately forgive because love cannot live where hate does," adding: "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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"We all make our choices – [Frank] made a different one than I did and we all live with them. But I can live with the choices I have made if I have truly experienced a deep and abiding forgiveness of that person."

Frank Gifford, Kathie Lee Gifford, Cassidy Gifford and Cody Gifford attends the "Scandalous" Broadway Opening Night at Neil Simon Theatre on November 15, 2012 in New York City© Getty
The Gifford family in 2012

Frank's affair was with former flight attendant and model Suzen Johnson, who was later revealed to have been hired and paid by a Florida-based tabloid to seduce him for a hit piece.

Though she was initially unsuccessful, on April 30 and May 1, she eventually lured him into a hotel room in Manhattan where the tabloid had installed recording equipment, and the story of the affair was published that month.

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