Receiving a standing ovation during today’s episode of The View, Barbara Walters announced she would retire from television next summer.
“I have been on television continuously for over 50 years,” Walters joked with false shock (“I was very young, Joy!”) “But in the summer of 2014, a year from now, I plan to retire from appearing on television at all. It has been an absolutely joyful, rewarding, challenging, fascinating, and occasionally bumpy ride and I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m perfectly healthy. This is my decision. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time and this is what I want to do.”
She mentioned that she will continue as co-executive producer on The View and that there would be special occasions where she might make an appearance. She joked that she was “not walking into the sunset.”
“I don’t want to appear on another program. I don’t want to climb another mountain. I want instead to sit in a sunny field and admire the very gifted women, and okay, some men too, who will be taking my place.”
She thanked her colleagues and said, “I hope I may also have inspired other woman to make television, in front or behind the cameras, as a career.”
This announcement followed a very touching tribute to Walters’ career, narrated by Walters.
The chairman and CEO of Disney, Bob Iger, was in the audience and talked about meeting her in 1976 when he was a production assistant. Apparently, she’s called him Jim ever since. Iger joked that when he and Walters retire, he’ll go to Disneyland or maybe they could go on Dancing With the Stars.
Iger offered his praise of her as well, “When I think of you, I think of the word ‘singular.’ In this business I don’t think anyone has come close to accomplishing what you’ve accomplished and I’m not sure anyone will.”
The mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg came out too! “I was in the neighborhood and you’ve always been my idol,” he told Walters. He said later, “You set a new standard. You asked the tough questions, but in nice ways…” Walters couldn’t resist the chance to ask Bloomberg what he was going to do next. He made a joke about going away with Walters and things got a little silly.
Watch the announcement below: