Tags: barbara walters | abc | nbc | the view | retire

Barbara Walters Ready to Sign Off After 5 Decades in Television

Sunday, 11 May 2014 11:13 PM

By Greg Richter

Image: Barbara Walters Ready to Sign Off After 5 Decades in Television
(Getty Images)

After five decades in television, Barbara Walters will finally call it quits on Friday.

She tells the New York Daily News she has yet to write what she will say at the end of her last episode of ABC chatfest "The View." She knows only that it will be short and will thank her long-time co-producer Bill Geddie.

Walters has done everything from hard news to celebrity interviews in her storied career, but says she'll be quitting the business altogether when she leaves "The View."

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"It's the first time I don’t have something else [on the air] to go to," Walters said. "I look forward to that."

"I could stay on if I wanted to. I control the show. It's not as if anyone asked me to leave," she said. "But I’ve accomplished what I wanted to accomplish."

Walters turns 85 in September.

Early in her career she began trying to score interviews with people who generally didn't talk to the media. She succeeded in getting everyone from world leaders, such as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, to celebrities such as Katharine Hepburn and Michael Jackson.

It was Hepburn who provided the grist for decades of jokes about Walters' interviewing style. When Hepburn told Walters she would like to be a tree, Walters asked her what kind of tree. That turned into parodies in which Walters asks interviewees out of the blue what kind of tree they would like to be.

But Walters had the last laugh, appearing on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" this weekend as herself following a montage of all the actresses who have portrayed her on the show over the years.

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She began her television career on NBC's "Today" show in 1961. She was co-anchor of "ABC Evening News" briefly, but Harry Reasoner disliked having a co-anchor and the two did not have an on-air chemistry as a result. She was a co-anchor of the ABC newsmagazine "20/20" for more than 20 years in addition to her interview specials.

Walters launched "The View" in 1997. But it was a hard sell for many affiliates who didn't think a daytime talk show with an all-female panel would work. Walters called many of the affiliates personally to persuade them to carry the show.

Today, the show is popular with men as well as women.

As a tribute to her decades with the network, ABC News plans to name its New York headquarters after her.

Urgent: Who Is Your Choice for the GOP's 2016 Nominee?

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