Kathie Lee Gifford Gets Emotional About Time With Hoda Kotb While Preparing to Exit 'Today' (Exclusive)

Gifford's last episode of the 'Today' show will be April 5.

It's the end of an era -- and Kathie Lee Gifford is already getting emotional. 

In less than two weeks, Gifford will be saying her goodbyes to the Today show and her partner in crime of over a decade, Hoda Kotb. ET's Nischelle Turner was with the co-hosts on Tuesday as they reflected on their friendship in their last sitdown interview together before Gifford's departure. 

"She's the best friend you can have," Gifford teared up while speaking about Kotb. "I consider Hoda one of my dearest forever." 

"The day that I met Kathie, that was big line of demarcation. I feel like everything changed and got better and got happier," Kotb shared. "I felt more fulfilled and I felt like I took risks that I never thought I could take." 

ET was with Kotb and Gifford in 2008, when the latter had just started her gig on the Today show. Their connection was instantaneous; they cried in the bathroom together thinking of all the fun they'd have together. 

"My biggest thing was, How could I ever do television at the level I was able to do with Regis [Philbin] and sustain it? ... We had done 15 years and we sort of changed the whole paradigm of daytime television," Gifford explained. "You sort of go, 'Wow, leave that alone.' And I just fell in love [with working with Kotb]." 

"Hoda is sunshine in a bottle, and I think Hoda came into my life when I think I lost a lot of sunshine," she continued. "I was kind of weary and worn out from life."

As the mom of two noted, "you don't bond on the mountain top so much. You bond in the valleys." Kotb was there for Gifford through the hard times, including the death of Gifford's husband, Frank, in 2015. 

"It was Frank who said,' You gotta do it, Kathie.' He said, 'She's wonderful and you guys are gonna be great together... and you're made for this business and you've still got a lot in you to offer,'" Gifford said of how her late husband encouraged her to take the Today show gig. "I was 54 at the time, and I was stunned anybody wanted me then." 

Kotb remembered spending Thanksgiving with the Gifford family, and how they welcomed her in with open arms. "Oh my god, my mom watching football with Frank Gifford!" she recalled. "I remember thinking, Some people open their life and let you come in. And some people make you wait outside the door and maybe you never get in.  But Kathie has always been open."

"I think that's what made life so exciting. It was things we never imagined could be part of our life and they were," she added.

The friends are clearly on the same page. Though beloved for their wine-filled hour on Today, they joked to ET that they've only had "three total" glasses of wine together. 

"That's our story and we're sticking to it!" Gifford cracked. 

Who will cry the most on Gifford's final day remains to be seen. "I think it'll probably be me," Kotb confessed. 

"She's going to be fine," Gifford insisted. 

Gifford's last show on Today airs April 5. 


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