The View has experienced countless host changes since it premiered on ABC in August 1997, but there was no bigger departure than Barbara Walters in 2014. That year, Walters, now 91, chose to retire from the daytime talk show. The legendary journalist made the decision on her own terms. Unlike other departures from the show, there was no drama behind Walters' choice. Walters was 85 when she retired from The View.
In an interview with Variety before her final episode aired on May 16, 2014, Walters said she was not being pushed out by ABC executives. "I think Jay felt that he was pushed out," Walters said at the time, comparing her departure to Jay Leno's final Tonight Show episode. "I don't feel like I'm being pushed out. This was my decision." She later told the outlet she was not sad about leaving the series at all. "So maybe there's something wrong with me," Walters told Variety. "What's wrong with this woman that she's not depressed about leaving television?"
Since Walters retired, she has stayed out of the public spotlight. When The View celebrated her 90th birthday in September 2019, she did not return to the show. However, the hosts at the time still toasted to her legacy and thanked her for supporting them. "Happy birthday to the reason we are all sitting around this Hot Topics table today — it is the birthday of the one and only Barbara Walters," moderator Whoopi Goldberg said on the show. "Happy birthday, Barbara! Thanks for the gig!"
In her Variety exit interview, Walters didn't want to completely rule out ever appearing on the show again. In fact, she remained an executive producer on the show until 2016. "I don't want to say I will never come back," Walters said. "If the president came on, depending on the circumstances, I might come back. If Fidel Castro said I will do an interview with you, which he has not in 25 years, I would go off and do it."
During her final episode, Walters gave a long speech before signing off, noting how proud she was to see young women follow her in her footsteps. "If I did anything to help that happen, that's my legacy," she said. "So now having had this amazing career, how can I just walk away and say goodbye? This way, from the bottom of my heart to all of you with whom I have worked and to all of you who have watched and been at my side for so many years, I can say: Thank you. Thank you. But then who knows what the future brings? Maybe instead of goodbye, I should say à bientôt. Which in French means, "see you later." So, à bientôt."
Since Walters has not been seen publicly recently, there has been constant speculation about her health. Back in February 2020, former The View co-host Jenny McCarthy claimed on her SiriusXM radio show that Walters was "not doing great" after she spoke with another former co-star, Sherri Shepherd. "That woman is a juggernaut that'll just keep going no matter what," McCarthy said of Walters. McCarthy went on to say that the "best thing" about her experience on The View was spending time with Walters.
The legendary Walters is the subject of a new biography by journalist Susan Page. The book is untitled and will be published by Simon & Schuster in 2023, reports USA Today.