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US television icon Barbara Walters to retire May 16

AFP , Monday 7 Apr 2014
Walters
Journalist Barbara Walters arrives for the Time 100 gala celebrating the magazine's naming of the 100 most influential people in the world for the past year, in New York, in this April 23, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)
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Trailblazing US television journalist Barbara Walters, famed for her political and celebrity interviews in a career spanning more than half a century, is to retire next month, the ABC network confirmed Monday.

Walters, 84, who had already confirmed she would retire in 2014, will bring the curtain down on 53 years of broadcasting when she co-hosts her chat show "The View" for the last time on May 16.

"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.

"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 ABC in 1976, becoming the first female anchor of an evening news program.

ABC said Monday that its New York headquarters would be renamed in her honor to reflect her pioneering career.

A two-hour special charting her career is to be screened by ABC on the night she steps down.

Walters began her career in 1961 at NBC's breakfast news and entertainment show "Today," making a household name for herself before her groundbreaking move to ABC.

In 1997, she launched "The View," a daytime talk show pitched at women of diverse backgrounds featuring an all-female panel discussing issues of the day.

Such is its reach that it is a must-visit stop for US presidential candidates. Over the years Walters has interviewed leaders like Cuba's Fidel Castro, Egypt's Anwar Sadat and Israel's Menachem Begin (side-by-side for the first time) and every US president and first lady since Richard Nixon.

She also made her name interviewing a raft of Hollywood celebrities such as Michael Jackson, Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie and Justin Bieber.

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