Vieira makes farewell appearance on "Today" show

Wed Jun 8, 2011 2:11pm EDT
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By Chris Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Meredith Vieira marked her final appearance as a popular co-host of NBC's top-rated "Today" show on Wednesday with an emotional farewell, telling her fans: "I will never leave you."

Vieira, who took the anchor job five years ago alongside Matt Lauer, was lauded with a two-hour broadcast dominated by tributes and remembrances from co-workers and celebrities and clips that ran from light-hearted to emotion-charged.

A clearly emotional Vieira, flanked by the show's Al Roker, Lauer and Ann Curry who will become the new co-host, said: "It's such a family, and it's really hard to leave a family, but I'm not going to say good-bye at all."

She reiterated that her own family was the main factor for leaving. "I know it's right, but it's hard," she said.

She displayed a charm her husband Richard Cohen gave her when she started the job that was inscribed with his and their children's names and read: "We are with you."

"I'm taking this off after the show, and I'm going to pawn it," she joked.

Turning serious, she said: "I'm going to put it in a safe place, and all of you I'm putting in my heart so I'll never ever leave you."

Lauer paid tribute to Vieira's humor and said she made him laugh "every single day."   Continued...