Barbara Walters: I'm not gone yet

Monday, May 13, 2013 - 1:01pm


 Barbara Walters received not one but two standing ovations as she announced her impending retirement on "The View" Monday.

Her words have been expected for weeks now, as the anticipation that Walters was going to retire has been at a high since March. Last month, Walters had to go on air to say that she didn't have an announcement ... yet.

But on Monday, "After all the speculation and rumors, I promised you that if I had anything to announce you would hear it first here," Walters told "The View's" audience as she took a seat next to co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg, Sherri Shepherd, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Joy Behar.

That kicked off a retrospective of Walters' astonishing career, which began at NBC in 1961. "I was hired for 13 weeks as a writer and on-air reporter for the 'Today' show," Walters recalled. "I stayed with that show for 15 years. No one was more surprised than I because I wasn't beautiful [and] I had trouble pronouncing my 'R's.' But I had the opporutinity to change the category for women ... from 'Today' girls to co-host. I'm very proud of that."

After five decades in the business, Walters has no shortage of major accomplishments to be proud of, including being the first network evening news anchorwoman when she moved to ABC in 1976.

Since then, Walters has been a standout not only on ABC but in TV journalism. She's held countless interviews with a variety of notables, from world leaders to celebrities, and has interviewed every U.S. president and first lady since Richard and Pat Nixon.

"I've been on television continuously for over 50 years," Walters said when the retrospective ended. "But in the summer of 2014 I plan to retire from appearing on television at all. It has been an absolutely joyful, rewarding, fascinating and occasionally bumpy ride."

Although Walters' health made headlines earlier this year after she hurt her forehead in a fall, the 83-year-old said that she's "perfectly healthy," and her retirement is her decision.

"I've been thinking about it a long time, this is what I want to do," she said. "I don't want to appear on another program, I don't want to climb another mountain. I want to sit back in a sunny field and admire the many women and some men who will be taking my place. I want to thank everybody here. I hope that I may have also inspired other women to make television in front of or behind the camera. ... It's their time now. But I have another whole year to go, my last season during which we have exciting things planned."

On Twitter, colleagues and more thanked Walters for her legendary contributions.

"@BarbaraJWalters is a wonderful journalist and friend. She paved the way for all of us...and has always been there for me," Katie Couric tweeted.

"@BarbaraJWalters Have a helmet ready tho not sure you need it! Thank you 4 breaking thru so many walls," Chelsea Clinton tweeted, along with the hashtag, "trailblazer."

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave his best wishes in person, showing up on "The View" to take a seat next to Walters. "You've always been my idol. We both came from Boston, we both went to public schools, we both came to NY to make it big" he said. "You have made an enormous difference ... in how TV journalism is done today."

The two even reminisced about the time Bloomberg was on the show because Walters had named him the man she'd most like to marry.

"I picked the mayor, because I thought he's as cute as can be, and he's rich. We were married on this show, and ... I would like to tell you that it was never consummated," Walters joked, while Bloomberg quipped, "hope springs eternal."

Walters' "View" co-hosts, too, celebrated her accomplishments among them, of course, being the creation of the daytime TV series in 1997.

Hasselbeck wanted to know how Walters concluded that now was the right time to retire, and she responded that it's still not perfectly clear.

"I know it's time. I want to leave when people are still saying, 'Why is she leaving?' instead of, 'Why doesn't she leave?' I know that one more year would be enough," Walters said. "I want to thank all of you, but I'm not gone yet ... you won't believe what they have in store for me."


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