Inside Kathie Lee Gifford's Tragic Connection To The Kennedy Family

Former Today show co-host Kathie Lee Gifford shared some deeply personal details in her book It's Never Too Late, which hit shelves on Dec. 1, 2020. Within the pages of her memoir, she revealed her connection to the Kennedy family and how she was there for them in a time of need. From 1981 until 1997, Kathie Lee's stepdaughter, Vicki Gifford — the daughter of her late husband, Frank Gifford – was in a relationship with Michael Kennedy. The two had split right before Michael died in a skiing accent in 1997, per People. He was on the slopes with other Kennedys when he crashed into a tree in Aspen, Colo. and died at 39.

As the time of the accident, Kathie Lee, her husband and her stepdaughter drove to the hospital to be by Michael's bedside. "Vicki heaved heartbroken tears," Kathie Lee wrote (via People). Although the pair split after Vicki learned of Michael's affair with the family's teenage babysitter, per People, she was still overwhelmed by the shocking loss. "She had loved Michael since she was fifteen years old, and although he had betrayed her and left her emotionally destroyed, she had never wished him harm," Kathie Lee explained. "She would always love him."

While accompanying her stepdaughter, Kathie Lee found herself comforting Michael's mother, Ethel Kennedy, in his final moments. Here's how the former talk show host was there for the Kennedy matriarch.

Kathie Lee helped Ethel Kennedy leave her 'favorite child'

Kathie Lee Gifford may have rushed to Michael Kennedy's bedside for the sake of her stepdaughter, but Ethel Kennedy was the one who needed her the most. When Michael was pronounced dead on New Year's Eve after a skiing accident, she ran into Ethel outside of Michael's hospital room. "I found myself standing directly across from Ethel Kennedy, still in her ski suit but disheveled, with her jacket hanging from her waist," Gifford wrote in It's Never Too Late (via People). "The look on her face was one of utter and total shock."

Gifford recalled Ethel's expression, writing that it looked the same as when her husband was assassinated in 1968. "My God, I thought, how much can one woman take?" Gifford continued to write. "I quietly walked over to her and embraced her and whispered how sorry I was. She had always been very candid that Michael was her favorite child of the eleven she had born. And now, he, too, was gone."

Although Gifford went to the hospital to support her stepdaughter, she stayed to be with Ethel even after she left to be with her children. "She was grieving so deeply that she couldn't move," Gifford revealed to People. "She was literally paralyzed with grief." Ethel struggled to leave her son's body, but Gifford said she shared a bible verse with the mother that gave her the strength to say goodbye, telling the outlet, "It changed her life."