Grandma’s Celebrity Gossip

Our California columnist discusses talk-show celebrities of today and yesterday.

Kathie Lee Gifford left the “Today Show.” She and her sidekick Hoda Kotb were some kind of a low-rent Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King, but me, I liked them better than Oprah with all her spiritual shtus and narish fad diets.

Kathie Lee’s given name was Kathy Lee Epstein. Her paternal seide was a Russian Jew, and she was Jewish until she saw a Billy Graham movie (“The Restless Ones”) and became a Holy Roller or whatever.

In New York she was known as a good hostess, (though hardly another Perle Mesta, G-d rest her soul), and wound up on the show with Regis Philbin, where she dumped her nudnik of a first husband for football player Frank Gifford.

No bargain she got with that momzer Gifford when he was caught cavorting with a stewardess/zoyne— a surprise it should have been to nobody, since all of Hollywood already knew that Gifford had cheated with one of Johnny Carson’s wives (JoAnne Copeland) while she was still married to Carson, and Frank Gifford was married to his second wife, Astrid Gifford).

From what I hear, Johnny Carson was no mensch and it was no secret that he was a shikker. Me? I could smell his boozy breath coming through my own TV set.

Sure, to his guests he was nice: Dean Martin, Don RicklesFrank SinatraAngie DickinsonJimmy StewartCarol Wayne, but to sidekicks like Ed McMahon and Doc SeverinsenBubkes! For them he had no time. And to Bob Hope, who was his most frequent guest, he was a real shtunk. Johnny hated that Bob Hope worked from a script, so he would ad lib to throw Bob off, who by then was so old and addle-brained, he’d shrug, slump down and say nothing like Charlie McCarthy without Edgar Bergen’s hand up his tuchis.

I’ve said enough already.


Most of Grandma’s Yiddish here is self-explanatory, but it seems fair to note that the terms “stewardess” and “zoyne” are not synonymous.  The nicest way to describe a zoyne is as a woman of low character.  Most flight attendants, male and female, do not fit that description.


Perle Mesta is a name not often heard these days.  She was a wealthy widow famed as the “Hostess with the Mostes'” in Washington, DC, during the last century, as well as a political activist, philanthropist  and the US Ambassador to Luxembourg.

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