Kathie Lee Gifford believes her son, Cody Gifford, will never get over his father Frank Gifford's death. The eldest Gifford child named his son after his late father, leaving Kathie Lee with some valid fears.
Frank Gifford was Kathie Lee Gifford's second husband, to whom she was happily married. Although the couple was loving toward each other, their relationship also had ups and downs.
The former "Today" show co-host and her husband met on the set of a morning news show and clicked immediately. Kathie Lee and the late television sports commentator started dating in the mid-1980s.
Kathie Lee Johnson and Frank Gifford at the B'nai B'rith International Awards Dinner on June 24, 1986, in New York City. | Source: Getty Images
The television personality once confessed to her former co-host Hoda Kotb that she "sort of" fell in love with Frank during one of their first moments together. The pair tied the knot in October 1986.
When Kathie Lee married the 23-year older sports commentator, she wasn't expecting to have any children with him. She'd married late, and Frank didn't want more children because he had three with his ex-wife, Maxine Ewart.
However, he ended up relenting, and in March 1990, he and Kathie Lee welcomed their first child together - son Cody Newton Gifford. Frank enjoyed being a father again late in life, and soon enough, he suggested they have a second child.
The star wanted his son to have a little sister or brother with Kathie Lee explaining his change of heart by stating: "It's the same way his heart softened the first time because he loved me." Their daughter, Cassidy, was born on August 2, 1993.
LOSING FRANK AFTER YEARS OF MARRIAGE
Kathie Lee Gifford sits with her son, Cody, at the dedication of Cassidy's Place on June 10, 1996, in New York City. | Source: Getty Images
Sadly, after almost 30 years of marriage, the "Monday Night Football" host passed away at age 84 in August 2015. In a statement, his family revealed that he'd died suddenly at his Connecticut home of natural causes.
Kathie Lee revealed that she and Cody, then-25, had the unfortunate task of finding Frank collapsed and unresponsive on that fateful day. The duo couldn't get in touch with Cassidy, then-22, because she was on a flight to a movie shoot.
Delta Airlines was also unable to inform the young woman to call home. The former television personality didn't want her daughter to find out the news through a monitor and got Cassidy home to inform her.
CODY'S SIMILARITIES TO HIS LATE FATHER
Cody and Frank Gifford during Kathie Lee Gifford's New Musical "Under The Bridge" - Opening Night Afterparty in New York, on January 7, 2005. | Source: Getty Images
Ironically, Cody happened to have a strong resemblance to his father when he was a player for the New York Giants. When Kathie Lee shared an Instagram family photo with her children at Hallmark Channel's Beverly Hills party on July 26, 2018, fans noticed the resemblance.
Fans also noticed how much Cassidy looked like her mother's mini-me too! Speaking on "Today," Kathie Lee noted the comments and confirmed that she'd also noticed that her son seemed quite similar to her late husband.
Besides being Frank's look-a-like, Cody also followed in the Hall of Famer's footsteps when he was younger. The late star's eldest child with, Kathie Lee, used to play football at the University of Southern California.
In 2014, Cody honored his father by helping him to turn his memoir, "The Glory Game: How the 1958 NFL Championship Changed Football Forever," into a project with HBO Films. The young man paid tribute to the late star uniquely the following year.
Cody Gifford at the Summer TCA Tour - Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies and Mysteries on July 27, 2017, in Beverly Hills, California. | Source: Getty Images
Cody attended a special event where he shared his memories of Frank in his late father's hometown of Bakersfield, California. While mourning his father's passing that same year and speaking about what a role model he was, Kathie Lee's son once said:
“The great [New York Giants co-owner] Wellington Mara once called dad ‘the son any father would love to have and the father any son would be proud to have.'”
Cody noted how right Mara was because God had blessed him "beyond words." The late athlete's son, who generally stays out of the spotlight, later studied at Oxford University, earning a master's degree.
THE GRANDSON FRANK NEVER MET
In December 2021, Kathie Lee announced that her son and his wife, Erika Brown, were expecting a baby. She revealed to People magazine that she found out she would become a grandmother in a particular way.
After arriving home to start her book tour the following day on "Today," while seated with Cody, his wife, and longtime friend Christine Gardner, the couple handed over a wrapped surprise. Kathie Lee and Gardner were asked to open the packages simultaneously.
Inside the wrapping was a two-sided frame where Kathie Lee's one read, "Can't wait to meet you, Grandma," on one side, and on the other was the couple holding an ultrasound. It took her a moment to process what it all meant before she started freaking out!
Gardner and the television star ran to hug Brown until Cody hilariously asked why he was being left out! Kathie Lee was excited to become a first-time grandmother, and in April 2022, she told her son that Frank would be happy.
Frank, Cody, Cassidy, and Kathie Lee Gifford at the opening night of "Scandalous" on Broadway on November 15, 2012, in New York City. | Source: Getty Images
She thought her late husband would've reveled in and smiled at everything happening in his family's lives. The former host shared that she'd initially wished her grandchildren would call her Glamma.
However, she asked an Israeli friend what the name of a Jewish grandmother was in Yiddish. The friend told her the title "Bubbalah" or "Bubbie" came from the word Bubbeh, which meant "my darling," and the star thought the term of endearment was perfect for her.
On May 31, 2022, Kathie Lee's grandson was welcomed, with Brown taking to her Instagram account to share his first photos. In the first image, the proud parents posed with the little boy at the hospital, and in the second, he was seen in a closer shot.
Brown shared how the birth of their son three weeks early and weighing 8lbs 8oz was the "best day of our lives." She said his name was Frank "Frankie" Michael Gifford and that he'd changed their lives forever.
Brown explained that the boy's first name was named after Cody's late father and the second one was her late uncle's. She revealed that both men had been "strong" and shared that they were gone but would never be forgotten.
Kathie Lee [Gifford] explained that she couldn't help but sing to him [Frank “Frankie” Michael Gifford] and thought he'd enjoyed it.
Kathie Lee shared the hospital photo of the family with baby Frank and confessed that her heart was bursting with joy! She said the birth of her grandson was confirmation "that our God is good and merciful and faithful. And he loves us!"
Speaking to "Today" on the day little Frank was born, Kathie Lee confessed that she was surprised Cody had decided to name his son after his late father. She further explained her astonishment and fears at the naming by saying:
"Cody knew what it was like to grow up in the shadow of a great man.”
Kathie Lee said, "But I guess he's never gotten over, really, and he never will, the loss of his dad at an early age." She felt her late husband had been Cody's hero and always would be.
On June 6, 2022, the former television personality shared an Instagram video of herself rocking in a chair while cuddling baby Frank. She lovingly caressed the newborn baby in the clip and sang "Amazing Grace" to him.