April 7, 2014 -- Almost a year after she announced her plan to depart daily television, Barbara Walters is preparing to say farewell.
Her last day co-hosting "The View," a program that she created, will be May 16, and ABC will air a two-hour special highlighting her life and career that night, from 9-11 p.m. ET. Walters will continue to executive produce "The View," and will be a lifelong member of ABC News, contributing as news warrants.
"In this business there are legends, there are icons, and then there is Barbara Walters," Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive of The Walt Disney Company said. "She's a dear friend and colleague as well as someone I deeply admire, and it's impossible to fully convey her impact and influence on television. She broke barriers, defied convention, made history and set the standard for journalistic excellence for more than 50 years. It's hard to imagine television without her."
Walters joined the network in 1976, becoming the first female anchor on an evening news program. Three years later, she became a co-host of "20/20," and in 1997, she launched "The View." Because of these accomplishments, among others, ABC News Headquarters in New York City will be named in her honor during a dedication ceremony that will take place this spring. Meanwhile, in the days leading up to her retirement, "The View" will toast Walters' career with a week-long celebration.
"Barbara Walters was one of the first people I met as an ABC page almost 38 years ago. She was fiercely intelligent, impressive and inspiring then, and remains so to this day," Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group said. "I am honored that I've had the rare opportunity to work, and learn, from her all these years. Her influence on television, and American culture, will resonate for decades to come."
After Walters announced her retirement last year, she told ABC News that she was excited "to find out if there's something I can do besides television."
"I did not sleep last night," she said at the time. "I thought, 'Am I doing it now? Should I do it later?' But then I thought it was better to go when people are saying, 'Why is she leaving?' than, 'Thank goodness she's leaving!'"