Gifford, Frank 1930–
Gifford, Frank 1930–
(Francis Newton Gifford, Frank N. Gifford)
PERSONAL: Born August 16, 1930, in Santa Monica (one source says Bakersfield), CA; son of Weldon and Lola Mae Gifford; married Maxine Ewart, January 13, 1952 (divorced); married Astrid Lindley, 1978 (divorced, 1986); married Kathie Lee Johnson, October 18, 1986; children: (first marriage) three; (third marriage) Cody Newton, Cassidy Erin. Education: University of Southern California, received degree.
ADDRESSES: Home—355 Taconic Rd., Greenwich, CT 06830. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Professional football player and sports commentator. New York Giants (professional football team), New York, NY, defensive back, running back, and flanker, 1952–60, 1962–64. KERO-TV, Bakersfield, CA, sportscaster, 1957; Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), commentator on NFL pre-game show, 1957–61, sports reporter and host of Sunday Sports Spectacular, 1965–71; WCBS-TV, New York, NY, sports reporter, 1961–65; American Broadcasting Companies (ABC), sports reporter on Wide World of Sports and color commentator on Monday Night Football, 1971–98, New York sportscaster on Eyewitness News, c. 1972–73, host of Monday Night Blast (Monday Night Football pre-game show), 1998.
Has appeared in films, including (as athletic double for Jerry Lewis) That's My Boy, Paramount, 1951; (as Stan Pomeroy; and technical consultant) All American, 1953; (as himself) Paramount Pacemaker: Touchdown Highlights, 1954; (as stuntperson) Sign of the Pagan, Universal, 1954; Darby's Rangers, Warner Bros., 1958; (as Mount) Up Periscope, Warner Bros., 1959; Turnpike Cop, 1960; (as himself) Paper Lion, United Artists, 1968; (as announcer) The World's Greatest Athlete, Buena Vista, 1973; (as himself) Two-Minute Warning, Universal, 1976; (as himself) Viva Knievel!, Warner Bros., 1977; and (as himself) Jerry Maguire, Columbia/Tristar, 1996. Appeared in television pilots, including Public Enemy and Turnpike. Guest star on television series, including What's My Line?, Hazel, The Six Million Dollar Man, The San Pedro Beach Bums, Webster, Life Goes On, The Adventures of Pete and Pete, Coach, and Spin City. Has also appeared in numerous television specials. Former chair of sports-casting committee for Special Olympics; board member, New York Society of Multiple Sclerosis; also works on behalf of Association to Benefit Children, New York, NY.
MEMBER: Phi Sigma Kappa.
AWARDS, HONORS: Named All-Pro halfback, 1955–57 and 1959; named National Football League (NFL) Player of the Year, United Press International (UPI) and Sporting News, and most valuable player, NFL, all 1956; named most valuable player of NFL Pro Bowl, 1959; named NFL comeback player of the year, UPI, 1962; named sportsman of the year, Catholic Youth Organization, 1964; inducted into National Football Foundation Hall of Fame, 1975; inducted into National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) College Football Hall of Fame, 1976; inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame, 1977; Emmy Award for Outstanding Sports Personality, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, 1977; Christopher Award, 1984, for coverage of 1983 International Special Olympics on Wide World of Sports; Founders Award, Multiple Sclerosis Society of New York, 1984; Career Achievement Award, NFL Alumni, 1985, for "demonstrating the higher values of football throughout his career, and after"; Lifetime Achievement Award, March of Dimes, 1989; inducted into University of Southern California's Athletic Hall of Fame, 1994; Pete Rozelle Award, 1995; Emmy Award, 1997, for lifetime achievement—sports; number retired by New York Giants, 2000.
Frank Gifford's Football Guidebook: Basic Plays and Playing Techniques for Boys, McGraw-Hill (New York, NY), 1965.
NFL-CBS Football Guide 1967, New American Library (New York, NY), 1967.
NFL-AFL Football Guide 1968, New American Library (New York, NY), 1968.
Pro Football Guide for 1970, New American Library (New York, NY), 1970.
(With Charles Mangel) Gifford on Courage, M. Evans (New York, NY), 1976.
(With Harry Waters) The Whole Ten Yards (memoir), Random House (New York, NY), 1993.
SIDELIGHTS: Frank Gifford first rose to fame as a professional football player for the New York Giants in the 1950s. His career was nearly ended by a severe concussion during the 1960 season, but after taking a year off, Gifford fought his way back in 1962. Finally, he retired for good in 1964. He set several impressive records during his football career: he ran for 9,753 combined yards, while the seventy-eight touchdowns he scored is still a Giants record. His 5,434 yards as receiver was only surpassed in 2003. Even before leaving football, however, Gifford had been providing sports commentary for the National Football League (NFL) pre-game show; and after 1964 he moved into sports journalism full time. For many years, Gifford was best known as one of the hosts of Monday Night Football. He joined the program in 1971, during its second season, and remained on the show until 1998, making him the longest-running host in the program's history.
Gifford wrote about his football and post-football experiences in his memoir, The Whole Ten Yards, which was published in 1993. The book opens with an "honest and deeply revealing account" of Gifford's itinerant childhood, Steve Gietschier commented in Sporting News. Gifford's father worked in the oil fields, and Gifford's family traveled with him throughout the United States. They lived in, by Gifford's count, over forty-seven different towns—and at one time hopped around fifteen different towns in a single year—before they settled in Bakersfield, California. While attending high school there, Gifford fell under the influence of the school's football coach, who groomed him into a star player and set him on the path that would take the athlete to first the University of Southern California and then to the New York Giants. This "easygoing, informative and anecdotal" memoir is "a good, solid sports autobiography," a reviewer concluded in Publishers Weekly.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Gifford, Frank, and Harry Waters, The Whole Ten Yards, Random House (New York, NY), 1993.
St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2000.
Buffalo News, August 31, 1998, Eric Mink, "Gifford Says ABC Fumbled 'MNF' Pre-Game Pass," p. A12.
Daily News (Los Angeles, CA), January 28, 2002, Tom Hoffarth, "Sideways Glance Giff, Sweetness, the Task-Master Coach, and a Couple of Super Joes," p. S3.
People, May 21, 1990, Jeannie Park, "Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford Finally Make It a Threesome," p. 162.
Publishers Weekly, October 4, 1993, review of The Whole Ten Yards, p. 62.
Record (Hackensack, NJ), October 19, 2000, Vinny DiTrani, "Gifford's 16 to Be Retired," p. S11.
San Francisco Chronicle, September 18, 1998, Susan Slusser, "'MNF' Fine with Boomer, but 'Blast' Is a Bummer," p. E2.
Saturday Night, December, 1996, Mark Kingwell, "Men's Night Out," p. 111.
Sporting News, November 29, 1993, Steve Gietschier, review of The Whole Ten Yards, p. 7.
Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), February 11, 1999, "Report: Gifford Is Out on 'MNF' Telecasts," p. 62.
ESPN Web site, http://espn.go.com/ (April 19, 2005), Mike Puma, "Gifford Was Star in Backfield, Booth."
HickokSports.com, http://www.hickoksports.com/ (July 21, 2005), "Frank Gifford."
Sports Stars USA Web site, http://www.sportsstarsusa.com/ (July 21, 2005), "Frank Gifford, Pro Football Hall of Famer."