Kathie Lee Gifford I'm Kissing 'Today' Goodbye

12/11/2018 7:11 AM PST

Kathie Lee Gifford Announces She's Leaving the 'Today' Show

Kathie Lee Gifford is saying sayonara to the "Today" show ... after she reaches the 11-year mark.

Kathie Lee unveiled her play Tuesday on the show, and she and her co-host, Hoda Kotb, immediately dissolved into tears.

Kathie didn't say why she's leaving, but it's gotta be a blow to NBC. The 10 AM hour of "Today" was one of the most profitable shows for the network. It was doing consistently well, although it suffered a drop in rating during the Megyn Kelly tenure.

It's pretty remarkable ... Kathie was a phenom with Regis Philbin on their morning show, "Live with Regis and Kathie Lee." After leaving that show in 2000, she took a break. It's almost impossible to recreate magic in a bottle, and there were doubters when she went to "Today," but she proved them wrong ... really wrong.

Her last day will be her 11-year anniversary on April 7, 2019 -- and she is leaving to pursue music, movie and TV opportunities.

Kathie started her career as the "singing girl" on "Name that Tune" in 1977.