Kathie Lee Gifford Stuns Viewers, Confirms Departure from The Today Show

It will soon be the end of an era on The Today Show.

An era defined by a lot of laughter, a great deal of banter and a $hitload of white wine.

Kathie Lee Gifford on Today

On Tuesday morning, Kathie Lee Gifford took Today viewers by shock when she announced her impending departure from a program she has co-anchored for 11 years.

Sitting alongside close friend and Hoda Kotb during their shared third hour of the program, Gifford said the following:

“I have something to share with everybody, and it’s bittersweet as these things always are.

"It’s an exciting time for me, and I’m thrilled about all the projects that are coming up. But it’s also hard … because I love everybody here so much.�

Growing emotional, Gifford continued as follows...

Kathie Lee

“I’ve been in this business 120 years and never worked with a more beautiful group of people who just give, give, give, every day.

"Four hours of live television every day, five days a week.

"We have fun and we laugh and we support one another and we know each other’s kids names and we know when someone’s having a colonoscopy.

"We know everything! We do life together.�

Gifford will remain on air through her official 11-year anniversary, April 7, before taking her enormous wine glass and going home.

The veteran host also signaled out Kotb in her farewell announcement.

“You’re just so special, Hoda,� she said. “Thank you, thank you so much.�

Kathie Lee Gifford Says Goodbye

The Today Show, of course, has undergone a few drastic changes over the past two years.

First, Matt Lauer was fired amidst accusations of sexual misconduct.

Then, Megyn Kelly was let go for basically being a racist buffoon.

Through it all, Gifford has helped keep things lighty and boozy during the show's 11 a.m. hour.

“As we all know, Kathie Lee’s plate has been overflowing lately with film, music and book projects, and after giving us eleven extraordinary years, she’s decided to focus her attention full-time on those other creative endeavors,� NBC News chief Noah Oppenheim wrote to the Today staff in a memo this morning.

The executive also shared the following message from the 65-year-old herself:

“In 2008, I joined the Today show family intending to spend one year.

"But something unexpected happened along the way: I fell in love with a beautiful, talented, extraordinary Egyptian goddess named Hoda, and an amazing group of individuals who work tirelessly and joyfully at their jobs, many of them starting at midnight, creating an unprecedented four hours of live television.

"I stayed year after year making a million memories with people I will never forget. I leave Today with a grateful heart but I’m truly excited for this new creative season in my life.

"Many thanks to all the wonderful people who made the years fly by."

Hoda Kotb with Kathie Lee

We don't yet know what plans Today has to fill Gifford's spot.

But Gifford rose to stardom on Live with Regis and Kathie Lee and then took a break after leaving that wildly popular program in 2000.

Kathie started her career as the "singing girl" on Name that Tune in 1977 and has been a consistent fixture on the small screen ever since.

Concluded Gifford upon making her announcement on Tuesday:

Thank you again everybody for loving us and supporting us.

I know somebody wonderful will be sitting in this seat afterwards. I have my idea of who might be absolutely wonderful, but there's a great pool of talent and beauty and heart around here, right within our own family.

And if they come from outside the family they will soon become family because you all treat everybody that way.