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Kathie Lee Gifford's Husband, Who Was Caught Cheating, Actually Became a Victim of Entrapment

Esther NJeri
Nov 05, 2021
05:20 P.M.
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When photos of Frank Gifford in a compromising situation with a woman hit the tabloids, it came as a shock to everyone. The blonde beauty was not Kathie Lee Gifford, whom the former football star had been married to for over a decade.

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Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford had been married for eleven years when the scandal reared its head and almost broke apart their once blissful marital life.

However, the Loews Regency Hotel rendezvous turned out to have been staged by the supermarket tabloid “Globe.” The beauty in question, a former Flight Attendant, Suzen Johnson, had been paid by the tabloid to entrap Frank.

Left: TV personality Kathie Lee Gifford attends the Premiere Of New Line Cinema's 'The Gallows' at Hollywood High School on July 7, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. Right: Her husband, Frank Gifford. | Source: Getty Images

Left: TV personality Kathie Lee Gifford attends the Premiere Of New Line Cinema's 'The Gallows' at Hollywood High School on July 7, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. Right: Her husband, Frank Gifford. | Source: Getty Images

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A VICTIM OF ENTRAPMENT

The Globe reported that Frank and Johnson’s acquaintance had begun on a 1993 flight where the two met for the first time. Frank had allegedly slipped the beautiful blonde his private phone number during this interaction.

While they kept communication between them alive, they didn’t meet until the 1997 scandal. Frank and Johnson, however, did supposedly try to plan a meeting before that, but it never came to fruition.

Globe is said to have paid off Johnson and placed secret cameras in the hotel room to ensure they recorded it all. Once the story was out, they would hold all the evidence, publishing it one piece at a time.

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Frank Gifford and Kathie Lee Gifford at the Westport Country Playhouse benefit dinner at The Hyatt Regency on October 14, 2004 | Photo: Getty Images

Frank Gifford and Kathie Lee Gifford at the Westport Country Playhouse benefit dinner at The Hyatt Regency on October 14, 2004 | Photo: Getty Images

Even for tabloids, that incident was way over the top. Even an editor of Globe’s rival National Enquirer, Steve Coz, seemed to think it was downright cruel. He said:

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"There's a difference between reporting the news and creating the news. It's one thing to catch a celebrity cheating and another to induce or entrap them."

Globe had helped choreograph the liaison between Johnson and Frank. But in their doing so, they had selfish intentions aimed at boosting their profits.

Kathie Lee Gifford at Broadcasting and Cable Hall Of Fame Awards 25th Anniversary Gala at The Waldorf Astoria on October 20, 2015 | Photo: Getty Images

Kathie Lee Gifford at Broadcasting and Cable Hall Of Fame Awards 25th Anniversary Gala at The Waldorf Astoria on October 20, 2015 | Photo: Getty Images

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Johnson would later disclose that the supermarket tabloid had paid her 25,000 dollars for the story. She also confessed that they paid her another 25,000 dollars for a photo of them together after signing an agreement in March that same year.

Other reports say, however, that Globe paid Johson between $75,000 and $125,000. The tabloid also reportedly catered for the hotel suite but had never mentioned that they would be wiring the room or fitting it with secret cameras.

Johnson was also adamant that Candace Trunzo, the news editor for Globe, had initially told her that the magazine was only interested in writing about the duo’s platonic relationship, nothing more.

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While the tabloids may have orchestrated the scandal for profits, it painted Frank in a bad light. He was a married man, after all, and cameras or not; he should not have been in a hotel room with a woman that was not his wife.

Kathie, who the Globe Editorial Director, Dan Schwartz, referred to as “a symbol of wholesomeness in American marriages,” said the story was “fabricated garbage,” with no truth to it whatsoever.

The “Live With Regis and Kathie Lee” host bashed the tabloids. She asserted they would do anything to have a trash story, even if it meant paying for a fabrication.

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Globe Editor Tony Frost disclosed that they initially had no intention of publishing the video. Then the Gifford family, through their lawyers, began ridiculing and discrediting the original story.

Globe held on to the incriminating video. However, when the Giffords started threatening to sue them, they were forced to release the video in an attempt to prove that theirs was a credible story.

THE SCANDAL’S IMPLICATIONS ON FRANK’S MARRIAGE

Frank was not entirely innocent in the situation. He had gone to the hotel willingly and had not been forced into doing anything he did not want to do.

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Many wondered whether the scandal would affect the couple’s decade-long union after it broke. In her memoir, “It’s Never Too Late,” Kathie said she forgave her husband, but it was not an easy feat.

After the video was released to the public, Frank and Kathie began attending counseling sessions with a trusted professional. Still, even then, the affair weighed heavy in Kathie’s heart.

For years that followed, Kathie says she would avoid going down Park Avenue, where the Regency Hotel is located. She knew the sight of the hotel would trigger many emotions in her.

Kathie Lee Gifford at an event | Photo: Getty Images

Kathie Lee Gifford at an event | Photo: Getty Images

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The former “Today” host says that her faith was built on forgiveness, and as such, she forgave her husband for his transgressions.

There was one problem though, she struggled for a while, unable to grasp the casual way Frank expected them to move past the problem. She wrote in her memoirs, as reported by The Sun:

“I couldn’t automatically feel the same way about him that I always had. He wasn’t my hero anymore.”

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Her counselor urged her to forgive her children’s father if she was unable to forgive her husband. As a result, she focused solely on Frank being her babies’ father other than just her husband.

With that in mind, she recognized how sweet, generous, compassionate, gentle, loving, and wonderful he was. Thinking of him as a father made forgiving him much easier.

Kathie says she prayed to God to grant her a more profound desire for her husband that she had never had before. And as if on cue, she found a great passion for her husband that she had never experienced before.

Kathie Lee Gifford at the 41st Annual Gracie Awards Gala on May 24, 2016 | Photo: Shutterstock

Kathie Lee Gifford at the 41st Annual Gracie Awards Gala on May 24, 2016 | Photo: Shutterstock

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The most significant factor that played into healing their marriage was the sex. Kathie says every time they came together as husband and wife and made love, it was a healing experience for her.

With the scandal now behind them and forgiveness playing its part, the couple would live on happily until Frank’s demise in 2015.

THE AFTERMATH FOR JOHNSON

Frank’s paramour, Johnson, took advantage of the publicity that followed her in the wake of the scandal. She made a handsome profit off of her dalliance.

Television personality Kathie Lee Gifford (L) and husband former professional football player Frank Gifford attend the Broadway opening of Come Fly Away at the Marriot Marquis on March 25, 2010 in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

Television personality Kathie Lee Gifford (L) and husband former professional football player Frank Gifford attend the Broadway opening of Come Fly Away at the Marriot Marquis on March 25, 2010 in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

On top of the thousands of dollars she made off of the scandal, the curvy blonde was, that same year, featured in the Playboy Magazine. The spread earned her a six-figure amount.

She would also sue the tabloid that first published the story for 10 million dollars, alleging slander, negligence, and false imprisonment. She claimed she had not been aware of the hidden cameras.

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