'It Was A Real Disappointment.' Kathie Lee Gifford Gets Candid About Her "Devastating" Marriage To First Husband Paul Johnson

November 6, 2019

Kathie Lee Gifford's first experience with married life was with Paul Johnson. The marriage did eventually fall apart and she went on to tie the knot with former New York Giants halfback Frank Gifford.

Frank and Kathie got married in 1986 and remained man and wife until August 2015 when he passed away from a heart attack.

Like any marriage, the Giffords had some ups and downs in their union but they managed to work through their problems and had an overall happy marriage that lasted 29 years. It was a Hollywood union worth celebrating.

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Kathie Lee Gifford and Paul Johnson's marriage

Long before Kathie and Frank began their love adventure together, the TV personality was married to Paul Johnson with whom she fell in love at age 22.

Kathie told People that at the time, she was head over heels for 29-year-old Paul who was the leader of her Bible study group.

They dated for a while before getting married in 1976 but on their wedding night, she realized they were not as good of a match like she thought. They couldn't get comfortable with each other which ended up being the beginning of an unhappy union.

Describing the marriage, Kathie said:

It was a real disappointment to me, as I know it was for Paul. We all want to love and be loved, and when it doesn’t happen, it’s devastating.

She added that their marriage lacked passion and the romantic connection needed to keep it alive. However, she tried to keep up appearances. She put in a lot of effort to make her husband happy but it only ended in tears.

Then in 1981, she came home one day to find that Paul had moved out of their home.

At the end of my marriage, I felt like I had presented myself as a gift to my husband that had been given back.

While it was heartbreaking, Kathie had to acknowledge that getting divorced was the right decision for them.

Paul Johnson on why their marriage ended

In November 1992, Paul wrote to People about his own perception of why the marriage ended. He claimed that everything about the union was "successful" for him and he didn't realize that Kathie felt differently.

He accused Kathie of making all their personal issues public and said it was why they couldn't build "genuine intimacy" in the marriage.

It sounds like Kathie and Paul had different ideas of why their marriage didn't work out. While the TV personality blamed a lack of chemistry, her ex-husband blamed her. But in the end, they can both agree that going their separate ways was the best thing for them.

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