Kathie Lee Gifford Asks Martin Short About His (Late) Wife

Kathie Lee Gifford, Martin Short: Her On-Air Gaffe
Kathie Lee Gifford and Martin Short
Peter Kramer/NBC; REX USA

updated 05/31/2012 AT 04:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/30/2012 AT 03:50 PM EDT

Someone wasn't adequately prepared for her interview Wednesday morning.

In what was clearly a gaffe, Today show host Kathie Lee Gifford, appearing live on the air, asked actor – and widower, since 2010 – Martin Short the secret to his great marriage to wife Nancy, including how they still make each other laugh.

"How many years are you in love with her now?" inquired Gifford.

Short, already looking stricken, quietly replied, "Thirty-six."

Short's wife, Nancy Dolman, died of natural causes after battling cancer, though a publicist for the actor at the time of his wife's death declined to comment on the cause.

Made aware of her error, the Today show host apologized on air and also Tweeted on Wednesday afternoon: "I send my sincerest apologies to @MartinShort and his family. He handled situation w/enormous grace and kindness and I'm so grateful."

The couple had been married 30 years and had three children.

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