By now, you probably know the story: Martin Short appeared on the fourth hour of Today yesterday to promote Madagascar 3. Partway through his conversation with co-anchors Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford, Gifford jovially asked Short to talk about his marriage — apparently unaware that Short’s wife, actress Nancy Dolman, died of ovarian cancer in 2010. The former SNL star took Gifford’s clueless questions in stride, even though his heart must have been breaking… especially when Gifford went on to ask if he and Dolman were still in love, or how they make each other laugh. Eeeesh.
In hindsight, it was a supremely uncomfortable exchange — but it might not be Gifford’s worst-ever onscreen gaffe. In 1997, Gifford made a similar blunder while chatting with guest James Taylor on her old show with Regis Philbin. She asked the musician how his older brother Alex was doing; “I wish I could say he was doing well,” Taylor replied. “Alex died about four years ago.” The moment was over more quickly than Gifford’s back-and-forth with Short — but getting called out on air may have been more embarrassing than learning about her mistake after the fact.
And then there’s this clip from last year, in which Gifford inadvertently makes an autistic middle schooler cry on national TV. Her utter obliviousness to that child’s feelings was so bad that Howard Stern was moved to call it “the train wreck of all time” — and spend a good chunk of his own show attacking the segment and Gifford herself.
But which of these three moments is truly Gifford’s morning TV low point? Compare the first and third by watching the clips below, then weigh in with a comment. (The James Taylor snafu isn’t available for our viewing displeasure, as far as I can tell — but give a shout out if you know where to find a video of it.)