Barbara Walters will retire next summer (you may have heard), and a yearlong celebration (think Oprah's) is about to begin. Here's Monday's announcement on "The View" and Newsday's story in Tuesday's editions.
Meanwhile, thought it was interesting she mentioned (though not by name in the clip) Harry Reasoner so prominently in Monday's announcement. Harry, as you are aware, was one of the founding correspondents of "60 Minutes." (Actually, he and Mike Wallace started the show on the same day, Sept. 24, 1968.) Harry didn't stay there long; he went to ABC News, and then returned in 1978. He was a gifted writer and a huge presence at "60," but he and Barbara were fraught from the beginning. As TV lore has it, he was jealous of her huge salary -- $1 million, then the most for a TV news figure in history, and that was quite a story at the time, too -- hated to have been paired with anyone; and made life miserable for her. It was star-crossed from the beginning and, of course, did not end up working. (That's another blog post for another day, but -- hey! -- we've got a year to catch up.) He went to CBS; she stayed at ABC.
Still, it was particularly interesting watching the old Reasoner clip. Maybe she wasn't bitter after all.... I wonder.
Saying the decision was hers alone and not related to any health-related concerns, Barbara Walters, 83, told the audience of "The View" Monday that she will permanently retire from appearing on television next summer.
That time will mark more than 50 years continuously on the air, beginning with a minor role that eventually grew into a co-hosting one on "The Today Show." "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,” said Walters matter-of-factly Monday, although she also appeared to leave the door ajar for future appearances on the daytime show she co-created and launched with her production partner, Bill Geddie, in 1997.
"I will continue as co-executive producer as long as the program is aired," while there will be "special occasions when I come back. But I don't want to appear on another program."
And so Monday marked more of a beginning than an end -- a yearlong retrospective and celebration of a remarkable career that began at NBC before former ABC News president Roone Arledge made her the highest-paid person in TV journalism, as co-anchor with Harry Reasoner of ABC's evening news program in 1976. The pairing was not successful, but her career at ABC has been been historic: a founding host of "20/20;" a globetrotting newswoman who scored some of the most famous interviews in TV history, and an independent producer who launched her own company that would supply ABC's entertainment division with some of its most popular interview programs for decades. "We've been together a long time," she said, addressing the TV audience. "My cup runneth over. I thank you thank you thank you..."