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Barbara Walters says goodbye to 'The View' with special guests and tributes

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After 17 seasons on “The View,” Barbara Walters said goodbye to the beloved show that she launched in 1997. Surrounded by dozens of famous friends, Walters, who is co-producer of the ABC talk fest, became emotional when it came time to sign off and head into the sunset of retirement. Her last show was taped on May 15 and aired on Friday morning. As posted by ABC News right after Thursday’s taping, the entire program was as close to perfect as Walters could have imagined.

On Thursday’s episode of “The View,” past co-hosts (Meredith Vieira, Rosie O’Donnell, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Star Jones, Joy Behar, Debbie Matenopoulos and Lisa Ling) joined Barbara Walters and her current co-hosts (Whoopi Goldberg, Sherri Shepherd and Jenny McCarthy) on the stage for one last round of Hot Topics, a regular segment that focuses on social and political issues. The very diverse group recalled their favorite moments on “The View.” As posted by the Hollywood Reporter, it was the first time all 11 co-hosts were on the same stage at the same time.

On Friday, “The View” was all-Barbara, with famous friends and co-workers singing her praise. The guest list was top-notch and included Hillary Clinton, Michael Douglas and Oprah Winfrey, who all stopped by to pass along well wishes and to recount fond memories of Walters. Hillary Clinton gave some advice to Barbara that included: take some time off, spend time with friends, take a real vacation, and "let down and enjoy."

Next up was Michael Douglas, who has been interviewed one-on-one by Walters on three separate occasions, the first in 1987. The two share a Sept. 25 birthday and have been close friends throughout the years. "You're an extraordinary person inside and out," Douglas stated genuinely during the farewell show.

The most touching tribute was when Oprah Winfrey and 25 female journalists joined Walters on stage to sing her praises. Winfrey told Walters, "You are the reason I wanted to be on television." She then introduced a powerhouse group that included Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer, Joan Lunden, Connie Chung, Robin Roberts, Maria Shriver, and many more admirers. They joined forces to explain that they were Walters’ legacy and that her influence on broadcasting is far reaching. To see some of Barbara's admirers talk about her influence on their lives, be sure to watch the video above. According to Hank Stuever from the Washington Post, Barbara Walters is “one of America’s greatest listeners.” On Barbara’s last show on “The View,” her guests and millions of fans agreed.

At the end of her goodbye show, a tearful and thankful Walters stated, "From the bottom of my heart to all of you - thank you, thank you." She added, "See you later. I can enjoy my view."

So, Barbara Walters has officially retired from “The View.” She’s also retiring from her other regular gigs. Love her or hate her, there’s no denying that the first lady of broadcast journalism has left her mark on the world. She was the first woman to co-anchor a nightly newscast and the first news anchor to earn $1 million. Her storied career has spanned more than five decades and her numerous TV specials became her signature on the industry. In addition, “The View” has been a gold mine for ABC.

Walters has climbed mountains and inspired generations. Now, it’s her turn to kick back and enjoy the fruits of her long and laborious endeavors throughout the years. According to the Denver Post, Walters wants “to sit on a sunny field and admire the very gifted women – and OK, some men too – who will be taking my place.”

Later today, ABC will continue its Barbara Walters' send-off. A two-hour primetime special titled "Barbara Walters: Her Story” will honor the journalist and look back at her 50-year career. It airs from 9-11 p.m. EST on Friday, May 16 on ABC.

Although Barbara Walters is retiring, she’ll still pop up from time to time. The 83-year-old will continue to work on “The View” from behind the scenes as executive producer. In addition, she will serve as a lifelong member of the ABC News team, making special appearances when major news events beckon her coverage.

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