UPDATED, 8:30 AM: Barbara Walters got a standing ovation on The View this morning as she announced she will make her final regular appearance on the show Friday, May 16. “Many of you have had to put up with me since your childhood — and, you’re not free of me yet, because I am not leaving television entirely,” Walters warned. “I will continue in my role as exec producer of The View…which means I can continue to watch [exec producer] Bill Geddie, with whom I have worked for more than 25 years, get older and balder… as I get blonder.”
“How does it make you feel to know every show pretty much that is on the air is The View?” co-host Sherri Shepherd gushed, rhetorically. “The fact you’ve got two black women on the show — you never see two black women [on a TV program],” Shepherd added. “You have created something that people have taken from over the years. How do you feel knowing you have created this kind of thing. Everything started with The View. I’m serious — you, you!”
“I love being on with you two,” Babs told Shepherd and newest co-host Jenny McCarthy, adding, “I cannot tell you how much emotion and love I have for Whoopi — and admiration.” She said she was sad to announce the date, but, “I also know that it’s time, and I don’t want people to say, ‘Is she still here?’ ” That said, she announced she has been named a “lifelong member” of the ABC News team and will continue to make “special appearances” as news warrants. Babs also noted ABC plans a two hour primetime special that night “looking back at my career over 50 continuous years on the air.” ABC News Headquarters in New York City will be renamed The Barbara Walters Building, Goldberg announced.
From ABC’s announcement this morning:
She was the first woman ever to co-host a morning show and the first female co-anchor of a network evening newscast. She co-anchored one of the longest-running newsmagazines, was host and producer of countless top-rated primetime specials and is the creator and co-host of one of daytime’s most successful talk and entertainment programs. She has arguably interviewed more statesmen and stars than any other journalist in history, and her notable interviews and controversial reports have made some of the most memorable moments on television. She didn’t just report history, she made history. She is Barbara Walters. And now, after more than five decades entertaining and informing generations of Americans, Barbara Walters says goodbye to daily television on FRIDAY, MAY 16 with her final co-host appearance on “The View” and a two-hour ABC primetime special celebrating her incredible life, both on screen and off.
Behind the scenes Walters will continue to be an active part of “The View,” the multi-generational talk show she created for ABC, in her role as Executive Producer along with Executive Producer Bill Geddie, her producing partner of more than 25 years. Last May, Walters announced live on the program that the 17th season for “The View” would be her last. All season, “The View” has been celebrating Walters’ career by highlighting her most famous interviews with the ongoing series, “The Year of Barbara.”
ABC will honor the broadcast legend with a week-long celebration May 12-16. “The View” will celebrate Walters’ final week, culminating with her final co-host appearance on Friday, May 16, (11:00 a.m.-12:00 noon, ET). A two-hour primetime ABC special highlighting her illustrious, unparalleled career will air Friday, May 16, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ABC News Headquarters in New York City will be named in her honor during a dedication ceremony.
“In this business there are legends, there are icons, and then there is Barbara Walters,” said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive of The Walt Disney Company. “She’s a dear friend and colleague as well as someone I deeply admire, and it’s impossible to fully convey her impact and influence on television. She broke barriers, defied convention, made history and set the standard for journalistic excellence for more than 50 years. It’s hard to imagine television without her.
In 1961, Walters began her unparalleled network career as a writer and then on air reporter for the “Today Show.” In 1963, she became a co-host of the program without the official title, but in 1974 NBC officially designated her as the program’s first female co-host. After more than a decade on-air at NBC, Walters joined the ABC News team in 1976 as the first female co-anchor of a news program.
During the past 38 years at ABC, 25 as co-anchor of “20/20” – and after more than 800 interviews – Walters has spoken with and helped us learn about some of the most famous and infamous people of our time. She has interviewed every president and first lady since Richard Nixon, almost every notorious murderer or accused murderer, countless Hollywood movie stars and newsmakers at the center of some sensational scandals. She made journalism history by arranging the first joint interview with Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat and Israel’s Prime Minister Menachem Begin in November, 1977. Another of her “firsts” was an hour-long primetime conversation with Cuban President Fidel Castro — an interview which has been printed in half a dozen languages and shown all over the world.
Through the years she has interviewed such world figures as Russia’s Boris Yeltsin, China’s Premier Jiang Zemin, Great Britain’s former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Libya’s Moammar Qadaffi and Iraq’s President Sadaam Hussein. She was the first American journalist to interview Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, and she conducted the first American network interview with Syria’s embattled President, Bashir al Assad in Damascus. Walters also conducted the first interview with President and Mrs. Bush following the attacks on September 11, 2001.
“The Barbara Walters Specials” are historically the top-rated specials of the year and have included such legends as Sir Laurence Olivier, Bing Crosby, John Wayne, Bette Davis and Audrey Hepburn. More recent interviews of superstars have included George Clooney, Matthew McConaughey, Patrick Dempsey, Jennifer Hudson, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, and Ellen DeGeneres. Walters’ “The 10 Most Fascinating People” special broadcast, launched in 1993, offered a year-end review of the most prominent newsmakers of the year, as well as the selection of the “most fascinating” individual.