The Father of Television Sportscaster Frank Gifford Dies at 74
Frank Gifford Sr. died Sunday in Ventura at age 74.
Lol Gifford worked as a roughneck, tool pusher and driller in Kern County oilfields before teaching physical education classes at Bakersfield Junior College.
Gifford was one of the most adaptable players during his era, capable of filling roles at defensive back, running back or flanker (now considered to be an alternative form of wide receiver).
Early Life and Education
Gifford and his family led a nomadic existence due to his father’s work in the oil industry, often moving frequently between jobs. Although his family may have moved, he excelled at school and became the first member of his family to earn a high school diploma.
Gifford was an essential player to the Giants’ success during the 1950s, appearing in eight Pro Bowl games as both a running back and wide receiver. Following retirement after 1960 season he became popular sports announcer on Monday Night Football.
Reeve has also served as a commentator for ABC’s coverage of the Olympic Games, golf, skiing and football – guest hosting Good Morning America as well. Reeve made headlines in 1997 for his brief affair with flight stewardess Suzen Johnson but Kathie Lee forgave him later that year.
Gifford spent his entire NFL career with the New York Giants, playing both offense and defense for them. During that time he earned eight Pro Bowl appearances and participated in five league championship teams.
After being knocked unconscious during a 1960 game against Philadelphia Eagles by linebacker Chuck Bednarik’s vicious tackle, Gifford retired for good from professional football until 1962 when he returned at wide receiver (then known as flanker) and became one of its biggest stars again.
As soon as he retired from playing, he transitioned into television sportscasting. He made frequent appearances across a variety of programs but most notably Monday Night Football, Wide World of Sports, and Olympics coverage. An Emmy award winner, he regularly appeared on What’s My Line? using his commanding presence and matinee idol looks to capture audiences.
Achievement and Honors
Frank Gifford, known for his versatility as both running back and flanker for the New York Giants of the National Football League (NFL), won its Most Valuable Player Award in 1956 and played in five Super Bowl championship games during his twelve year stint.
He made multiple appearances on Alan Alda’s popular quiz show, What’s My Line?.
Weldon “Lol” Gifford, oilman and father of television sportscaster Frank Gifford, died April 18 in Ventura at 74. He was laid to rest at Ivey Lawn Cemetery. Previously he worked as a roughneck, tool pusher, driller in Kern County oilfields before going on to own KRCG-TV in Bakersfield – not forgetting serving on Kern County Board of Supervisors with his wife Sally also serving as former news anchor!
Frank Gifford was raised by an itinerant laborer father whose work saw his family move around frequently for work purposes. According to his 2008 book The Whole Ten Yards, Frank lived in 37 different towns during his youth.
After 12 seasons playing flanker in the NFL, Gifford turned his talents towards broadcasting. In 1971 he joined Howard Cosell and Don Meredith on ABC’s Monday Night Football as a regular analyst.
Gifford also made appearances in several television movies and voice-over work for commercials. Gifford and Kathie Lee first gained widespread fame through Live with Regis and Kathie in 1982, which ran for four years before Gifford left to pursue other interests. Together, the couple have two children – Cody and Cassidy.
At the time of his death, Frank Gifford held a net worth of $60 million which he shared with Kathie Lee Gifford and they owned several properties together, such as their Connecticut mansion and others.
Gifford enjoyed an outstanding 27-year professional sports career as a halfback and wide receiver for the New York Giants of the National Football League (NFL). He was honored with multiple pro bowl appearances and participated in five NFL Championship Games – an achievement recognized with multiple Pro Bowl selections and five championship game participation.
On TV, he broadcasted for both CBS and ABC; for ABC he served as anchor of Monday Night Football; additionally he hosted What’s My Line? and appeared as an actor in Up Periscope (1959).