Kathie Lee Gifford has had a long and successful career. Alongside her now-late co-anchor Regis Philbin, the French native became a household name as a presenter on The Morning Show. She also became involved in several other media projects and wrote children’s books.
Besides her professional work, Gifford’s private life also caught the public’s attention. She’s been married twice, with her second marriage to Frank Gifford lasting nearly 30 years until his passing in 2015.
Before that, Gifford, 68, was married to composer and Christian music publisher Paul Johnson. The couple married when Kathie was 22, but their marriage became a disaster. Gifford was left crying on her wedding night.
So what happened? This is all you need to know about Kathie Lee Gifford’s two marriages – and who she is dating now.
Kathie Lee Gifford was born on August 16, 1953, in Paris, France. Her father worked as an American naval officer and a jazz saxophonist on weekends, and her mother was a former naval secretary. She changed her career to radio, where she was a singer.
Kathie Lee Gifford – early life
Since their father was stationed in several European countries, Kathie and her siblings lived in several places. They grew up in France, but in 1957, the family moved back to the United States and settled in Bowie, Maryland.
Katie Lee Gifford’s life has long been very religious. One of her grandparents was Jewish, and Kathie mainly grew up in a Jewish environment. However, she attended Methodist Sunday school in Bowie, and at 12, she became a Christian after seeing a Christian film named The Restless Ones.
“For most of my childhood, my family honored God in a general sense but didn’t know him personally. We were culturally Jewish on my father’s side and culturally Christian on my mother’s side. But our faith—and indeed everything about our lives—began to change one night when I was 12,” she told Christianity Today.
“I came home to see my mother and sister in our living room, sobbing in front of the television. A couple of years prior, President Kennedy had been assassinated, so I walked in thinking, ‘What cataclysmic event has happened this time.’ But I discovered that my mother and sister had been watching one of Billy Graham’s televised crusades. That night they both came to Christ.”
From a young age, Kathie Lee Gifford wanted to become an actress and a singer. She felt that God was with her “at every twist and turn,” and at 17, Gifford got her first taste of fame as she won her state Junior Miss Pageant.
Discovered at a beauty contest
She went to Alabama, where she represented her state of Maryland in the national competition, and there a meeting changed the course of her life.
In Mobile, Alabama, Gifford met Christian singer, and co-host of the pageant competition, Anita Bryant. She saw that Kathie Lee had great potential as a singer, and decided to invite her to live with Anita and her husband in Florida. Gifford accepted their invitation, and while she was occasionally working as a singer in Southern Baptist churches and doing secretarial work for Anita, she also babysat their child.
“Anita invited me to live with her and her family in Miami,” Gifford explained. “She and her husband wanted to pour what they knew into someone, and they felt that in the 10 years, they’d been looking that I was the one.”
However, she added that when being with Anita, her voice started to change.
“My voice started sounding like Anita’s,” Gifford added. “Her voice is immediately recognizable, and I’d hear myself sing, and I’d say, ‘That sounds just like her!’”
After one year – realizing that Anita and her husband’s marriage was just a front for their careers – she decided to leave. At that point, Anita had helped her get a full scholarship to the evangelical Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Also a spot in Roberts’ World Action Singers, where she sang gospel.
In 1972, Gifford sang on television for the first time on Oral Roberts’ television show in Burbank, California, and later traveled around the Southern parts of the US, attending revival meetings.
Kathie Lee Gifford cried on her wedding night
But Oral Roberts’ school wasn’t anything for Kathie Lee Gifford. Soon, she felt that he manipulated her and others and decided to leave the university during her junior year.
But her sight was not on moving back home – but to make it in Hollywood. A year later – after scrambling for jobs doing work as an extra and as the singer on the television program I Believe in Miracle – she met her first husband, Paul Johnson. He was her bible study group leader.
In 1976, Kathie Lee and Paul got married. Gifford was still a virgin, and she called herself “the Last Hollywood Virgin.” But, at 22, when she got married, she was eager to change it, and the instant attraction the Paul was a crucial ingredient in that.
Gifford was convinced that Paul was “the ultimate Christian catch.” However, on their wedding night in Acapulco, Mexico, she learned that she had been wrong all the time.
“It was, like, YABBA-DABBA-DOO! I lost every inhibition I’d ever had. It was time for candles and romance, time to boogie and swing from the chandeliers. And yet we just couldn’t seem to get relaxed with each other,” Kathie Lee Gifford wrote in People Magazine in 1992.
The talented singer spent the entire wedding night crying her eyes out. Already at that point, she knew that it was a mistake. It took years before Paul and Kathie Lee divorced in 1983, seven years after marrying.
“Awful” marriage to Paul Johnson
“[The marriage] was a real disappointment to me, as I know it was for Paul. We all want to love and be loved, and when it doesn’t happen, it’s devastating.”
She added that one of the hardest things to accept was that “we saved ourselves for so long and expected it to be so good because we had done it ‘right.’”
The married couple couldn’t get things to work at all, and they never settled into a comfortable sexual relationship.
“It was not passionate, and it was not successful, but it was polite,” she added.
Years later, in 2000, Kathie Lee Gifford further spoke about her first marriage to Paul Johnson, explaining that he was the one leaving her.
“I wouldn’t even call him a husband. Awful. Horrible,” she told The Globe and Mail. “[I got married] because I thought I was in love, and he thought he was, too. It was a stage, it happened. It’s over. God bless him. I’m just so glad I don’t have to do it again.”
Kathie Lee Gifford continued on her life’s journey, and she did very well for herself.
Kathie Lee Gifford – marriage to Frank Gifford
She co-hosted The Morning Show with Regis Philbin, which later was renamed Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, from 1985 to 2000. Then, she decided to leave the show to host the fourth hour of NBC’s Today, which she left in 2018.
She stated that one of the main reasons for leaving was her beloved second husband Frank Gifford’s passing in 2015, which influenced her decision.
“After my husband passed, you realize that you’re gonna run out of time,” Gifford said in a statement.
In 2020, Kathie Lee suffered another tough loss as her former colleague Regis Philbin passed away at age 88. Gifford took to Instagram to honor her former friend and colleague.
“There are no words to fully express the love I have for my precious friend, Regis. I simply adored him, and every day with him was a gift,” she wrote. “We spent 15 years together bantering and bickering and laughing ourselves silly—a tradition and a friendship we shared up to this very day.”
“There has never been anyone like him. And there never will be.”
Gifford left the spotlight four years after her husband, Frank, passed away in 2015. Unlike her first marriage, the union with Frank was a true love story, with the couple spending 29 years married.
Frank Gifford’s passing in 2015
While doing a segment on Good Morning America, Kathie Lee Gifford met Frank, and the two fell in love with each other. In 1986, the couple married. They welcomed two children, Cody in 1990, and Cassidy in 1993.
“Our almost 30-year marriage was a real love affair and a true marriage in every sense of the word, so God redeemed,” Gifford said.
In 1997, however, the couple went through a very rough patch as Frank – a former football player – cheated on Kathie Lee.
Even though she explained it as “absolutely devastating,” the television host said that despite the contemplated divorce, she decided to forgive him.
“We were able to turn it around. It was the right thing for my life to forgive my husband. And then work at forgetting,” Gifford explained.
In 2015, tragedy struck. Frank had battled with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease that can result in athletes due to repeated blows to the head for years. Just weeks before his 85th birthday, he passed away,
“He was a very good, dear, gentle, generous man,” Kathie Lee said of Frank. “So many things about him that I valued as my friend, and I continued to value him as my husband and the father of my children. But the person you loved the most in your life is the person that can hurt you the most.”
“We just sensed their dad just smiling”
Since 2018, Kathie has been living outside Franklin, Tennessee. Even though she isn’t a TV presenter anymore since her exit from NBC’s Today in 2020, Kathie still has plenty of things to do.
Spending time with friends and still working, Kathie feels better than ever.
“You know what? I feel so good, I feel strong, healthy, and renewed inside. I feel thirty years old truly,” Gifford said in late September.
In three months, she had the fantastic opportunity to see both her children get married. Kathie Lee Gifford’s daughter Cassidy, 27, married partner Wierda, while her son Cody, 30, walked down the aisle with Erika.
And even though her late husband Frank Gifford wasn’t in attendance, Kathie says his spirit was there.
“We just sensed their dad just smiling, I was sobbing.”
Following the passing of her beloved husband Frank, Gifford wasn’t in the mood for dating. However, in November 2019, she revealed that she had gone out on several dates. Then, one night – when she was out with some friends at a club to hear a band play – one man caught her attention.
This is Kathie Lee Gifford’s boyfriend Randy Cronk
“I went to hear them, and this sweet guy asked me to dance, and so I said, ‘OK.,’ And then he just disappeared into the crowd,” Kathie Lee Gifford recalled. “Then, you know, a couple of weeks later, the same band — Tim Akers & the Smoking Section — so we danced again. And then we just went out a couple of times. It was fun because I hadn’t been on a date in 33 years.”
If that was a man named Randy Cronk, we don’t know. However, as of today, Kathie Lee Gronk has found love once again in Randy.
In April of last year, while appearing on the Today Show, she spoke about her boyfriend being very “nice, and fun, and healthy.”
“I’ve just found somebody that is so much fun to be with,” Kathie Lee Gifford added. “He is the smartest person I’ve ever met, and he is funny too.”
Kathie Lee Gifford – no makeup photo, net worth
According to The Daily Mail, Randy Cronk – originally from Cincinnati, Ohio – is working as an insurance agent. He’s the President and insurance broker at RMC Insurance Group LLC. Further, the site adds that Frank, as of now, resides in Spring Hill, Tennessee.
For years, Kathie Lee Gifford has been looking amazing, and she sure is aging with grace. The now-68-year-old was spotted in New York City appearing without makeup – and we can’t stop smiling when we see her!
As now today, Kathie Lee is said to have a net worth of around $60 million.