NEW YORK - The legendary newscaster will leave TV journalism next summer
For decades, Barbara Walters has inspired millions with her groundbreaking interviews — but after 37 years with ABC News, the newscaster is announcing on “The View” Monday that next summer, she will retire from TV journalism. Until then, she will continue to anchor and report for ABC News, appear on “The View,” and anchor specials throughout the year including a “20 Years of 10 Most Fascinating People” special in December, an Oscars special, and a May career retrospective.
Walters will remain Executive Producer of “The View,” the show she created in 1997.
“I am very happy with my decision and look forward to a wonderful and special year ahead both on ‘The View’ and with ABC News,” she said. “I created ‘The View’ and am delighted it will last beyond my leaving it.”
Walters began her career in 1961 at NBC’s “Today Show,” where she eventually became a co-host.
“No one was more surprised than I,” she says of her on-air career. “I wasn’t beautiful, like many of the women on the program before me, [and] I had trouble pronouncing my r’s. I still do!”
Still, in 1976, Walters found a new home at ABC “Evening News,” where she became the first female anchor on an evening news program. Three years later, she became a co-host of “20/20.”
At ABC, her interviews were wide-ranging and her access to public figures, unparalleled; Walters crossed the Bay of Pigs with Fidel Castro, conducted the first joint interview with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israel’s Prime Minister Menachem Begin. She also developed a reputation for asking tough questions. In one instance, “I asked Vladimir Putin if he ever ordered anyone to be killed,” she recalls. “For the record, he said no.”
But there were lighter interviews too. Walters hosts a “Most Fascinating People” special in December, which has afforded her the opportunity to chat with stars from Angelina Jolie to Tom Cruise. She has also interviewed every U.S. president and first lady from the Nixons to the current administration. But perhaps one of her favorite contribution to the network has been “The View.”
“There’s only one Barbara Walters,” says ABC News President Ben Sherwood. “And we look forward to making her final year on television as remarkable, path-breaking and news-making as Barbara herself.
Barbara will always have a home at ABC News and we look forward to a year befitting her brilliant career, filled with exclusive interviews, great adventures and indelible memories.”
Meanwhile, Walters, who has one daughter, Jacqueline, is looking forward to taking a break — and seeing what the next generation of journalists has to offer.
“I do not want to appear on another program or climb another mountain,” she says. “I want instead to sit on a sunny field and admire the very gifted women — and OK, some men too — who will be taking my place.”