"I do not want to appear on another program," says the 83-year-old TV veteran
After more than five decades, Barbara Walters is hanging up her microphone.
“Let me just say I have been on television continuously for over 50 years. But in the summer of ’14 I plan to retire from appearing on television at all. … I’m perfectly healthy. This is my decision. This is what I want to do,” Walters told her audience, which in the studio included Disney CEO (and therefore head of ABC) Bob Iger – who suggested once he also retires that both he and Walters go on Dancing with the Stars.
Fellow Bostonian Michael Bloomberg – who now happens to be Mayor of New York City – also showed up, and told Walters she is his hero.
“I love you,” Walters told the mayor, “even if you don’t like very tall soft drinks.”
ABC said in an announcement late Sunday that. despite Monday’s announcement, Walters will continue to anchor and report for the network, anchor specials throughout the year and appear on The View.
“I am very happy with my decision,” Walters said, “and look forward to a wonderful and special year ahead.”
She added: “I want instead to sit on a sunny field and admire the very gifted women – and, okay, some men, too – who will be taking my place.”
Walters has spent 37 years at ABC News, joining the network in 1976 to become the first female co-anchor on an evening news program. Three years later, she became a co-host of ABC’s 20/20 newsmagazine.
Before coming to ABC, she spent 15 years at NBC News, where she was a co-host of the Today show – after first only being hired for 13 weeks, she pointed out on Monday’s The View.
After that, she interviewed world leaders, movie stars from Bette Davis to Angelina Jolie and every President and First Lady from the Nixons to the Obamas.
• Additional reporting by ASSOCIATED PRESS