Kathie Lee Gifford married her first husband, Paul Johnson, in 1976 when she was 22 years old. As noted by Biography, Johnson owned a Christian music publishing company, and the couple became well known on the Christian television circuit. Unfortunately, their six-year marriage was an unhappy one. Gifford wrote in her autobiography, “I Can’t Believe I Said That!” (via People) that she saw her husband as “the ultimate Christian catch,” but that the two weren’t well suited, calling their marriage “a real disappointment.” Gifford wrote that, while there was a lack of chemistry in their relationship, their marriage “was polite.”
It was Johnson who ended the marriage, moving out one day while Gifford was at work — and Gifford was crushed. While she admitted that their marriage “was not passionate,” she had still committed herself to the union and hadn’t considered the possibility of divorce. “At the end of my marriage, I felt like I had presented myself as a gift to my husband that had been given back,” she revealed.
It was not the marriage Gifford had dreamed of, and it was not the ending she had expected, but Gifford later admitted that the divorce ended up being the best thing for her; it opened her up to more opportunities in her career and allowed her to find a more fulfilling relationship.