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, she says goodbye to daily television Friday, May 16, with her final co-host appearance on "The View," and a two-hour ABC primetime special celebrating her life - both on screen and off.
Behind the scenes Walters will continue to be an active part of "The View" - the multigenerational 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."
Walters will also be a lifelong member of the ABC News team, making special appearances as news warrants.
ABC will honor the broadcast legend with a weeklong celebration May 12-16.
•"The View" will celebrate Walters' final week, culminating with her final co-host appearance Friday, May 16 (11 a.m., ET).
•A two-hour primetime ABC special highlighting her illustrious, unparalleled career will air Friday, May 16, at 9 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."
Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks, and president, Disney/ABC Television Group, added "Barbara Walters was one of the first people I met as an ABC page almost 38 years ago. She was fiercely intelligent, impressive and inspiring then, and remains so to this day. I am honored that I've had the rare opportunity to work, and learn, from her all these years. Her influence on television, and American culture, will resonate for decades to come."
On "The View," Walters has remained the one constant: a confident, trusted voice viewers have relied on especially in times of crisis, sharing her wisdom, insights and a breadth of knowledge on a variety of subjects. Whether seated with President Barack Obama or pop star Justin Bieber, Walters never hesitated in asking the tough questions. "The View" allowed Walters to showcase her lighter side. Audiences embraced her unique brand of humor and quick wit when dispensing advice or recounting a story. Walters has had countless memorable moments on "The View."
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, and 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 that has been printed in half a dozen languages and shown all over the world.
Through the years, Walters 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 Sept. 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.