Suzen Johnson

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Suzen Johnson (born February 1951) is a former flight attendant, businesswoman and model. She had an affair with sports reporter Frank Gifford in April and May 1997. The two were photographed together,[1] bringing embarrassment to Gifford and his wife, Kathie Lee.

Life and career[edit]

Johnson was born in Washington, D.C. and later moved to Florida. She married athlete and businessman Harold E. Johnson (born 1930) who made money in the 1950s transforming gyms into fitness centers by adding services and amenities.[2] In 1989, the couple opened two unsuccessful Fabulous New Woman Health Spas in New Bedford and Fall River, Massachusetts.[3]

For many years she worked as a flight attendant for TWA, including being scheduled to work on TWA Flight 800 which crashed in 1996, but swapping shifts the day before.[4]

Johnson currently works as a real estate agent in Palm Beach, Florida.[5]

Affair with Gifford[edit]

At the end of April and beginning of May 1997, Johnson spent a week with Gifford at the Regency Hotel, in Manhattan.[6] Unbeknownst to Gifford, the weekly tabloid The Globe bugged the hotel room, concealing video cameras and eavesdropping equipment to document the affair, for which to publish the story later that May. The Globe reportedly paid Johnson, with sums mentioned from $75,000 to $125,000.

Aftermath[edit]

In the November following the Gifford scandal, Johnson appeared on the cover of Playboy, and appeared in a nude pictorial inside that issue.[7]

The extent to which the Globe went "to get the story" became a news issue in itself.[8][9] In January 1999, the National Enquirer published a story about the Globe paying Johnson for the story about the affair,[10] and in June 1999, she sued the publisher of The Globe, claiming that she was told the newspaper wanted to write only about their platonic relationship, and the paper had wired their hotel room without telling her.[11] Johnson said she signed an agreement with the tabloid in March 1997 in which Globe officials offered $25,000 for the Gifford story, and an additional $25,000 for a photo of them together.

In 2001, she ran a website called "SuzenJohnson.com: Frank Gifford's Mistress Tells All", with her image from the Playboy cover. On the site, she wrote about her faith and her battles with the tabloids, had a picture gallery, and intended to have fitness information, a members section, and a store.[12] The site closed in 2002.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Elizabeth Johns (May 16, 1997). "Photos Embarrass Giffords". E! Online news. Archived from the original on 10 May 2000. 
  2. ^ My background in the health and fitness industry at the Wayback Machine (archived August 7, 2001) SuzenJohnson.com
  3. ^ Gifford scandal hits home Chris Gonsalves, The New Bedford Standard-Times June 5, 1997
  4. ^ My story at the Wayback Machine (archived August 7, 2001) SuzenJohnson.com
  5. ^ Suzen Sells Palm Beach
  6. ^ The Top 5 Most Asked Questions About the Gifford Relationship at the Wayback Machine (archived June 9, 2001) SuzenJohnson.com
  7. ^ Frank Gifford's Mistress Exposed in "Playboy" Marcus Errico, E! Online news, August 8, 1997
  8. ^ 'Yellow journalism': quaint concept in today's 'untidy' media world Paul Eisenberg, Media Studies Center, May 19, 1998, hosted by the Freedom Forum
  9. ^ Taming the Tabloids Darcie Lunsford, American Journalism Review, September 2000
  10. ^ Tabloid loses fight to stop rival from publishing Gifford affair story Associated Press, January 4, 1999, hosted by the Freedom Forum
  11. ^ Gifford's mistress sues tabloid CNN Showbuzz, June 23, 1999
  12. ^ SuzenJohnson.com at the Wayback Machine (archived February 1, 2001)