TV personality Kathie Lee Gifford definitely has an opinion on the effects of infidelity on marriage, saying that her own experience with cheating had an "absolutely devastating" impact on her.
In her memoir, It’s Never Too Late: Make the Next Act of Your Life the Best Act of Your Life, the 67-year-old former television host spilled the details about husband Frank Gifford’s transgressions, which happened about 11 years into their nearly 30-year marriage: "You feel hopeless and you don't want to live anymore," she noted.
But, what exactly happened to rock the pair's storybook-perfect union? As it turns out, the details of the 1997 affair that crumpled the couple are salacious even by 2020 standards.
Gifford, then a 66-year-old veteran football star and ABC Monday Night Football commentator, had a two-day tryst with a married 46-year-old TWA flight attendant, Suzen Johnson — which wouldn't be a situation particularly out of the ordinary, except for the fact that Johnson was allegedly paid by tabloid The Globe to lure Gifford to her hotel room, where hidden cameras awaited their playtime.
The Globe's editorial staff at the time didn't deny the setup, which paid out an unconfirmed sum to Johnson to detail their rendezvous (reports put the figure at a minimum $75K). The Giffords strenuously fought her allegations of the tryst, saying it was "complete fabrication," but then were forced to do an embarrassing about-face and admit defeat when the tabloid countered with actual footage from the cameras.
The news of the planned trap became a story unto itself that was shocking enough to eclipse mere sexy photos. Rival tabloids expressed horror at The Globe's tactics: "There's a difference between reporting the news and creating the news," said Steve Coz, then-editor of the The National ENQUIRER, which did its own story on the entire three-ring circus.
"It's one thing to catch a celebrity cheating and another to induce or entrap them...this is way over the top. It's downright cruel."
Johnson, for her part, decided to sue The Globe in 1999, claiming she had no idea they'd actually wired her room. “He came to me. I was wrong to let him in my room," she told radio host Howard Stern. "I don’t want to break up a marriage or anything, but the man was clearly unhappy. He was so happy with me."
However, unbelievably, Johnson also told Stern that Gifford wasn't even angry when he contacted her after the photos hit the streets.
"Didn't he say to you, 'How could you do this to me?'" Stern asked Johnson at the time. "No, he wanted to know when we could see each other again," Johnson answered, adding that round two never happened, but apparently not for lack of consideration.
“Our schedules just weren’t compatible,” she explained.