Whether you remember her as the interviewing goddess before Katie Couric, or simply know her as the “mature” voice on The View, Barbara Walters has been a media leader for decades. Described as a “pioneering American TV journalist,” she’s just announced her retirement with her final hurrah (at least so far) scheduled to take place on The View in May 2014, according to ABC. She was the first female co-anchor on an evening news program and has famously hosted the annual most fascinating people list.
Walters created The View in 1997, and at the time it was an innovative approach to talk television. A two-hour evening special is scheduled for May 16, 2014 which will highlight her life and career. Walt Disney Co. oversees the ABC network, and according to the Chairman and Chief Executive of The Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger, “In this business there are legends, there are icons, and then there is Barbara Walters. She broke barriers, defied convention, made history and set the standard for journalistic excellence for more than 50 years.”
Farewell to a legend
“It’s hard to imagine television without her,” Iger muses. However, Walters will of course go out with a bang. ABC News headquarters located in New York is hosting a dedication ceremony for her this spring, and The View will feature a full week celebrating her career. President of Disney/ABC Television Group Anne Sweeney says, “Her influence on television, and American culture, will resonate for decades to come.” Walters announced her retirement plans one year ago, saying that even though she was healthy at 84, it was simply time to transition.
“This is what I want to do. I’ve had an amazing career,” she said in a teary announcement last spring. Though she describes herself as healthy, she’s faced a number of health issues including a concussion from fainting and chickenpox (which can be deadly as an adult). Undergoing open heart surgery in 2010, these ailments must have taken a toll on Walters. However, her legend will surely persist for many more years.
The real most fascinating person
Whether Walters was covering a story on home buying tips for first-time buyers or interviewing the POTUS, she had a knack for connecting her viewers with the story. Last year, she hosted “20 Years of the 10 Most Fascinating People,” but of course the true most fascinating person may very well be Walters herself. She has interviews with Margaret Thatcher, Fidel Castro, every POTUS since Richard Nixon and Saddam Hussein under her belt.
Add in Tom Cruise, Elizabeth Taylor and a host of other celebrities, and it’s astonishing what this journalist has achieved since 1961 when she started her career on “Today” at NCB as a morning co-host.