Live with Kathie Lee
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Live with Kathie Lee

Being at a photo shoot with Kathie Lee Gifford is like getting a front row seat to a sold-out one-woman show. She sang, she danced, and yep, she did the unexpected.

Tired, but a Trouper

Kathie Lee was in need of a little pick-me-up when she arrived at the Guest House Studios in downtown New York straight from her 10 a.m. Today Show gig. After all, she had been on the go since 6:45 a.m., the time she gets in her car every morning to commute from her home in Greenwich, Connecticut, to the show's midtown location. But after scoring a cup of coffee, and a little downtime in makeup artist Nicole Bryl's chair (during which she traded one-liners with photographer George Lange) she was raring to go.

Photographer Lange got the party started by blasting some classic show tunes on his iPod. Gifford, who's released several of her own albums through the years and also produced an off-Broadway show called Under the Bridge, quickly got into the act, belting out songs from Phantom of the Opera and Gypsy. She even showed off some fancy footwork in between shots.

Sexy Mama

During the two-hour shoot, Gifford, 54, was able to showcase her impressively toned arms and legs by trying on sleeveless, knee-length designer dresses by Ralph Lauren, Michael Boris, and Joanna Mastroianni. Even when lunch was served, she had fashion -- not food -- on the brain. Though filet mignon, a selection of gourmet cheeses, and a decadent fruit torte tempted the crew, Gifford stuck to just a few bites of salad and then was back in her dressing room, in search of the perfect frock.

For the last shot of the day, Gifford went from "Glam" to "Just Got out of Bed." She put oversized curlers in her hair (yes, she insisted on doing it herself!) and slipped into some comfy pants and fuzzy bunny slippers. Sitting at the studio's butcher-block table, she dug into a bowl of cereal, then tossed handful after handful of the confetti-colored loops into the air while mugging for the camera. Lucille Ball would have been proud.

Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, June 2008.