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Francis Newton "Frank" Gifford

Birthplace: Santa Monica, Los Angeles County, California, United States
Death: August 09, 2015 (84)
Greenwich, Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States (Natural Causes)
Immediate Family:

Son of Weldon Wayne Gifford and Lola Mae Hawkins
Husband of Kathie Lee Gifford
Ex-husband of Private and Private
Father of Vicky Gifford-Kennedy; Private; Private; Cody Newton Gifford and Cassidy Erin Wierda
Brother of Winona Gifford and Waine Gifford

Managed by: Geoffrey David Trowbridge
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Frank Gifford

Francis Newton "Frank" Gifford (August 16, 1930 – August 9, 2015) was an American football player and television sports commentator. After a 12-year playing career as a running back and flanker for the New York Giants of the National Football League (NFL), he was a play-by-play announcer and commentator for 27 years on ABC's Monday Night Football.

Early life

Gifford was born in Santa Monica, California, the son of Lola Mae (née Hawkins) and Weldon Gifford, an oil driller.

After graduating from Bakersfield High School, Gifford was unable to gain an athletic scholarship to the University of Southern California (USC) due to his low grade point average. Undeterred, he played a season for Bakersfield Junior College, making the Junior College All-American team while making the grades needed to enroll at USC.

At USC, Gifford was named an All-American athlete and player and graduated in the class of 1952.

NFL career

He began his NFL career with the New York Giants by playing both offense and defense, a rarity when platoon football became popular after World War II. He made eight Pro Bowl appearances and had five trips to the NFL Championship Game. Gifford's biggest season may have been 1956, when he won the Most Valuable Player award of the NFL, and led the Giants to the NFL title over the Chicago Bears.

He lost 18 months in the prime of his career when he was laid out by a hard tackle. During a 1960 game against the Philadelphia Eagles, he was knocked out by Chuck Bednarik on a passing play, suffering a severe head injury that led him to retire from football. However, Gifford returned to the Giants in 1962, changing positions from running back to wide receiver (then known as flanker). Despite his long layoff and having to learn a new position, he became a star once again.

His Pro Bowl selections came at three different positions—defensive back, running back, and wide receiver. He retired again, this time for good, in 1964, after making the Pro Bowl as a receiver.

During his 12 seasons with the New York Giants (136 regular season games) Frank Gifford had 3,609 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns in 840 carries, he also had 367 receptions for 5,434 yards and 43 touchdowns. Gifford completed 29 of the 63 passes he threw for 823 yards and 14 touchdowns with 6 interceptions. The 6 interceptions is tied with Walter Payton for most interceptions thrown by a non-quarterback in NFL history, while the 14 touchdowns is also the most among any non-quarterback in NFL history.

Gifford once appeared as himself as a guest star on the television series, Hazel, in the episode, "Hazel and the Halfback", which originally aired December 26, 1963. In the story, Gifford is interested in investing in a local bowling alley.

Gifford was officially inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on July 30, 1977.

Broadcasting career

After his playing days ended, Gifford became a commentator mainly for NFL games on CBS. His big break came in 1971 when he replaced Keith Jackson as play-by-play announcer on ABC's Monday Night Football, joining Howard Cosell and Don Meredith, and would continue on as a commentator until 1997, amid controversy regarding an affair he had with airline stewardess Suzen Johnson. In 1998, he was given a reduced role on the pregame show. After that, Gifford left Monday Night Football.

Non-football assignments

Gifford also served as a reporter and commentator on other ABC programs, such as their coverage of the Olympic Games, skiing, and golf, and has guest hosted Good Morning America on occasion. He met his wife Kathie Lee while filling in as GMA host. In 1995, he was given the Pete Rozelle Award by the Pro Football Hall of Fame for his NFL television work.

He also announced Evel Knievel's jumps for ABC's Wide World of Sports in the 1970s, including when Knievel failed to clear 17 buses at Wembley Stadium in 1975.


Gifford has a younger brother, Waine, and an older sister, Winona. Gifford has two sons (Jeff and Kyle) and a daughter (Victoria) from his first marriage with Maxine Avis Ewart. Victoria married a member of the Kennedy family, Michael LeMoyne Kennedy. Gifford has two granddaughters from his son Jeff and three grandchildren from his daughter Victoria.

Super Bowl XIX in 1985 brought both Frank and Today Show talk show host and singer Kathie Lee Gifford together. He called the game on ABC. They have been married since October 18, 1986 and she shares his August 16 birthday. They have two children: son Cody Newton Gifford (b. March 22, 1990) and daughter Cassidy Erin Gifford (b. August 2, 1993). They live with their family in Greenwich, Connecticut.

The Giffords also appeared together as hosts for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.


In 1997, the tabloid The Globe recorded Trans World Airlines flight attendant Suzen Johnson seducing Frank Gifford in a hotel room equipped with cameras installed by the newspaper. ESPN later reported that Johnson was paid $75,000 for the story while The Atlantic put the figure at $125,000.

At the end of April and beginning of May 1997, Johnson spent a week with Gifford at the Regency Hotel in Manhattan. Unknown to Gifford, the weekly tabloid The Globe had concealed video cameras and tape recording equipment in the room to document their affair, and published the story that May.

Selected books

Gifford, Frank; Richmond, Peter. (2008) The Glory Game: how the 1958 NFL championship changed football forever. New York : Harper. ISBN 9780061542558

Gifford, Frank; Waters, Harry. (1993) The Whole Ten Yards. New York : Random House. ISBN 0679415432

Gifford, Frank; Mangel, Charles. (1976) Gifford on courage. New York : M. Evans ; Philadelphia : distributed by Lippincott. ISBN 0871312239

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Frank Gifford's Timeline

August 16, 1930
Santa Monica, Los Angeles County, California, United States
February 20, 1957
Bakersfield, Kern County, California, United States
May 22, 1990
August 2, 1993
Greenwich, Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States
August 9, 2015
Age 84
Greenwich, Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States