ABC’s Barbara Walters to Retire in 2014
ABC news veteran Barbara Walters is retiring next summer.
The 83-year-old Walters, who was the first woman to co-anchor a nightly network newscast in 1976, will announce her retirement from TV journalism Monday on The View. Until then, she will continue to anchor and report for ABC News, appear on The View and anchor specials including the 20 Years of 10 Most Fascinating People in December, an Oscars special and a career retrospective in May. She will remain executive producer of The View, which 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, who has been with ABC for 37 years, has interviewed every American president and first lady since Richard and Pat Nixon. She 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.”
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!”
First network female anchor
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.
But there were lighter interviews too. Walters has interview stars from Angelina Jolie to Tom Cruise.
“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.”
Walters, who has one daughter, Jacqueline, said she is retiring while she is still in good health and 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.”