One of television’s most iconic personalities said goodbye to the small screen today, as Barbara Walters’ final episode of “The View” aired this morning amid a flurry of celebration and well wishes. Walters announced her retirement earlier this year after more than 50 years on air, but assured today's audience she’s not really leaving for good. Instead, Walters issued an official “à bientôt,” which is French for “see you later."
Indeed, in addition to retaining executive producer status on "The View," the 84-year-old media veteran will cap off her swan song with a two-hour tribute special tonight at 9/8c on ABC. Highlights will include reflection upon Walters’ illustrious career, including her diverse list of interview subjects – one of whom kicked off a series of surprise appearances on “The View” today.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sat with Walters and her colleagues on set, prompting the legendary news anchor to kid Clinton about being her replacement on the show. Walters' reporter instinct quickly took over, however, and she couldn’t help but ask Clinton about her highly speculated presidential run in 2016.
“I am running,” Clinton began, before deflecting with a punchline. “…around the park.”
Both Clinton and Oprah Winfrey, who joined Walters at the “View” desk near the end of the telecast, urged the longtime anchor to take a much-needed vacation. Walters admitted she’s headed to Berlin with a friend after “The View” wraps, but much of the episode focused on Walters’ past – particularly, her groundbreaking contributions to broadcast journalism. Winfrey herself said Walters helped carve a path for her own impressive career, and proceeded to introduce a cavalry of today’s female anchors who also followed in Walters’ footsteps.
Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer, Jane Pauley, Joan Lunden, Connie Chung, Elizabeth Vargas, Robin Roberts, Savannah Guthrie, Natalie Morales, Tamron Hall, Hoda Kotb, Kathie Lee Gifford, Maria Shriver, Paula Zahn, Gayle King and Lisa Ling, among others, all gathered on stage to greet Walters and provide a powerful image to illustrate how far gender roles have evolved since Walters became the first female co-anchor for any network evening news broadcast in 1976.
Despite the episode’s many humorous jabs, including a pre-taped interview in which comedienne Cheri Oteri interviewed Walters while impersonating her right down to their matching pink blazers, Walters was clearly touched by the assembly of protégés.
"This is my legacy,” she declared, gesturing to the group of women for whom she helped pave the way. “These are my legacy."
Not quite ready to bid adieu? Catch “Barbara Walters: Her Story” tonight at 9/8c on ABC.