Walters gets choked up talking about retirement

  • Updated: May 13, 2013 - 7:54 PM
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Barbara Walters became the first woman to co-anchor a network news program in 1976 when she teamed up with Harry Reasoner on ABC. She’ll retire from TV next summer.

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Barbara Walters said Monday that retirement from her epochal TV career is near, but it’s not happening right away. Walters, who began in TV news on “Today” in 1961, became the medium’s best-known interviewer, and invented a daytime talk show at an age many people would be going fishing, said on “The View” that she will step away from the camera next summer.

Before that, her retirement tour will include TV specials looking back at her work.

The announcement brought the 83-year-old Walters to tears. While not necessarily a surprise, the ­discussion was alternately saucy and emotional.

“In the summer of 2014, I plan to retire from appearing on television at all,” Walters said.

She’s been through some health problems this year, being hospitalized after a fall taken while leaving a ­pre-inaugural party in Washington and coming down with chickenpox. She didn’t cite that as a reason for leaving, saying she is in perfect health and isn’t being pushed out.

“I want to leave while people are still saying, ‘why is she leaving?’ instead of ‘why doesn’t she leave?’ ” ­Walters said.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg stopped by to salute Walters on the live telecast. The audience was stocked with brass from ABC and parent company Disney, including Disney CEO Robert Iger. Walters joked with Iger about appearing on “Dancing With the Stars” together.

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