I’ve learned that Barbara Walters will announce her retirement on The View tomorrow. As we first reported in March, the TV icon this spring made the decision to get off the air after 52 years, and had been mulling the timing of her announcement. It will come tomorrow, in the middle of May sweeps. Walter is expected to leave her duties as The View co-host and ABC News contributor in summer 2014 but will keep some behind-the-camera presence, including serving as executive producer of The View, which she co-created. But before she hangs up her microphone, Walters will host one more 10 Most Fascinating People special and another Oscar special, among other appearances on ABC and her hosting duties on The View. Walters will be given a big sendoff on the network culminating with a retrospective special, likely next May.
Walters has been a trailblazer for female TV journalists, becoming the first woman to co-host a news program when she got behind the Today desk in 1974 and the first co-anchor of a network evening news broadcast when she joined ABC Evening News in 1976. She also anchored ABC News’ primetime news magazine 20/20 for 20 years. The View will have a whole year to replace Walters. More pressing is the search for a successor to Joy Behar, who announced in March that she will leave this summer. Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s future remains unclear with continuous speculation that she may also depart.