Kathie Lee Gifford and Howard Stern End Feud, After He Left of Voicemail Asking for Forgiveness

Miu von Furstenberg 6 Min Read
6 Min Read
Kathie Lee Gifford and Howard Stern
Photo bys Xavier Collin/Image Press Agency & S. Buckley

Howard Stern, once known for his controversial and combative style, has shown a softer side in recent years, a stark contrast to his peak fame as the so-called “shock jock.” During that time, one of his frequent targets was Kathie Lee Gifford, whom he often criticized on-air. However, Gifford recently revealed how Stern made amends while promoting her new book, I Want to Matter: Your Life Is Too Short and Too Precious to Waste.

The feud escalated in 1995 when Gifford was selected to sing the national anthem at Super Bowl XXIX. As she began her rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” she was met with booing. She later discovered that Stern had instructed his listeners to jeer at her. Having never met Stern or listened to his show, Gifford described the incident as “completely surreal.”

Fast forward nearly two decades to 2012, when Stern appeared on Today to announce his new role as a judge on America’s Got Talent. At the time, Gifford co-hosted the show's fourth hour alongside Hoda Kotb. Despite precautions to keep them apart, Gifford introduced herself to Stern, as she recounted in a recent interview with Fox News Digital.

USA - "America's Got Talent" Los Angeles Auditions Arrivals - Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES – APR 22: Howard Stern at the “America's Got Talent” Los Angeles Auditions Arrivals at Dolby Theater on April 22, 2014 in Los Angeles, CA. Photo by Carrie Nelson

“The Lord… said, ‘Kathie, go down and say hello to him, and wish him well with the show,'” Gifford recalled. “And I said, ‘OK Lord.' I got up out of my hair and makeup [room]. Those girls had been told, ‘Don’t let Kathie go anywhere near the studio.' I couldn't care less. I go downstairs. They go, ‘Where are you going?' I said, ‘I’m going to go say hello to Howard.'”

Despite the entourage surrounding Stern, Gifford approached him. “He’s very, very tall, and I was in my little flats coming in from Connecticut,” she said. “I said, ‘Hey, it’s Kathie Lee.' I thought it was about time. I said, ‘I want to wish you all the best with the new show.' Then I went back to the makeup room. They asked, ‘Why’d you do that?' I said, ‘God told me to.'”

Gifford continued with her day, not expecting anything further from the encounter. However, later that evening, she received a phone call from an unknown number and instinctively knew it was Stern.

“We’re having dinner, and I see the no-caller ID,” she explained. “I said, ‘That’s him.' My husband and son did not want me to take that call. He had been horrible to me and horrendous to my entire family… I’d never met the man, never listened to his show. I [heard] he said certain things about me. I’d go, ‘Why? I don’t even know the man.'”

USA - 2020 Movieguide Awards - Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES – JAN 24: Kathie Lee GIfford at the 2020 Movieguide Awards at the Avalon Hollywood on January 24, 2020 in Los Angeles, CA. Photo by Carrie Nelson

Gifford didn't answer the call but later found that Stern had left her an apologetic voicemail. “I can’t even use the language that he used,” she said. “It was a lot of F-words, but he was saying, ‘I can’t believe how nice you were to me. I’ve been so rude to you and you were so nice. I just need to apologize to you. Please call me.'”

Although she couldn't return the call immediately, Gifford said they eventually spoke privately, during which Stern asked for her forgiveness.

“I said, ‘I’m really happy for you that you’re asking for forgiveness because anytime we hurt somebody in life, it’s important to ask for forgiveness,'” Gifford recounted. “But I just want you to know that I forgave you 30 years ago.’ He goes, ‘What?’ I said, ‘I forgave you 30 years ago, and I’ve been praying for you every day since. And it’s the truth. He goes, ‘Oh my God.' I said, ‘Would you like to come to dinner sometime?’ He goes, ‘You’d have me at your house?’ I said, ‘Of course.'”

While it's unclear if Stern ever accepted her dinner invitation, the long-standing feud appears to have been resolved.

“He’s a very odd duck,” Gifford added. “But then I saw him a couple of times over at Sirius, and we were fine. I can get along with a rock.”


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