TV will never be the same without Barbara Walters.
After more than five decades in broadcast news, the 84-year-old journalist made her final appearance on The View Thursday; the episode aired Friday at 11 a.m. on ABC. Jenny McCarthy, Whoopi Goldberg and Sherri Shepherd kicked off the show from the round table as Walters waited in the wings. "This is the biggest day in the history of The View because making her final walk out as co-host of The View, please welcome the amazing, the fabulous, the woman who hired everyone at this table, the amazing Barbara Walters!" Goldberg said. Walters received a standing ovation from the crowd, as several of her former co-hosts—including Rosie O'Donnell and Debbie Matenopoulos—cheered in the audience.
Hillary Clinton was the first guest on the program. "You look terrific here," Walters told the former Secretary of State, who topped her Most Fascinating People list twice, more than any other honoree. "Why don't you take my place on the show? I won't be asking you what you're doing next all the time."
"I want to start by saying I can't believe this day has come and I can't believe it's for real. I don't know what we're all gonna do without seeing you go one place or another asking questions we'd all like to ask," Clinton said. "The fascinating list has always been a particular interest of mine and then to be on it was an incredible honor." What advice did she have for Walters? "I've been thinking about this," she said. "First of all, take some time off. That's what I've been doing! Take some time, you have a wealth of friends who adore you spend time with them take a real vacation...for like a week, at least!"
Walters couldn't resist asking Clinton about a possible presidential in 2016. "As long as you're here, let me ask you a question. The question I want to ask is, are you gonna run?" she inquired.
"Well I am running...around the park!" Clinton said, laughing. Before the politician left the stage, Walters told her co-hosts, "No matter what she does, she will always to me be the most fascinating."
Shepherd then set up the next segment by telling Walters, "The only person who's truly qualified to interview you is you. You can't do that, can you?" As it turns out, she sort of can! Comedienne Cheri Oteri, who memorably impersonated her on Saturday Night Live, conducted a mock exit interview.
Michael Douglas, Walters' friend and Sept. 25 birthday buddy, was the first guest to sit on the couch. Over the years, he appeared on The View 12 times and did one-on-ones with Walters three times. He, too, had advice for the outgoing TV journalist. "Take a little rest, but if Hillary runs, I think you'd be a great Vice President," he told her. The former 20/20 anchor replied, "I hope they're ready for a ready for a woman president. I'm not sure they're ready for both, but thank you." All jokes aside, the actor told his longtime pal, "You're an extraordinary person inside and out. You have the warmest heart."
Several ABC affiliates shared their fondness for Walters in pre-taped clips. Then, Oprah Winfrey made a surprise appearance. "I can't believe it!" Walters said. "Of course I'm here!" Winfrey told her. "I had to be here today, Barbara. I had to be here for your last show to celebrate you because of what you have meant to me. You have literally meant the world to me. There truth is, there are so many things I want to say, but there just isn't enough time to say them all. Like everyone else, I want to thank you for being a pioneer and everything that that word means...I thank you for the courage it took every day to get up and keep doing it, during those day when you walk in to ABC Evening News newsroom and your co-anchor [Harry Reasoner] didn't want you to sit there. I thank you for the courage it took you every day to get up there and sit there." Regarding her retirement, the TV titan told Walters, "I not only want you to rest, I want you to have everything that your heart desires. You deserve it."
Walters said she was "so moved" by Winfrey's words. "We all proudly stand on your shoulders, Barbara, as we honor you," the Oprah Prime host said. Walters was a trailblazer for newswomen, and to honor that, a number of TV personalities showed up to say thank you. Winfrey introduced 25 female broadcast journalists from every major news network, all of whom Walters influenced. The women, including Juju Chang, Julie Chen, Katie Couric, Kathie Lee Gifford, Savannah Guthrie, Tamron Hall, Gayle King, Hoda Kotb, Joan Lunden, Natalie Morales, Amy Robach, Robin Roberts, Diane Sawyer, Maria Shriver, Elizabeth Vargas and Meredith Vieira will carry on her legacy. The iconic TV personality was moved to tears as she hugged each of the women. "I just want to say this is my legacy!" she said, pointing to the surprise guests. "These are my legacy! And I love you—all of you!"
And then, it was time for Walter's farewell. "The good news is that I will have time now to get Botox. But now that I'm not going to be on the air, I don't need to get Botox," Walters joked. "But starting soon I will be available for supermarket openings and charity auctions. For a $10 bid, you can have lunch with me. For a $20 bid, you don't have to."
"How do you say goodbye to something like 50 years in television?" she asked. After recalling her various interviews with heads of state, religious leaders and celebrities, Walters said she's proud to have paved the way for so many women in broadcast journalism. "If I did anything to help that happen, that's my legacy. So now, having had this amazing career, how can I just walk away and say goodbye?" she asked. "This way, from the bottom of my heart to all of you whom I have worked and to all you who have watched: I can say thank you." After plugging her two-hour ABC special airing Friday at 9 p.m. PDT, Walters said she will finally settle into her retirement.
"When all of that is done I can take a deep breath and enjoy my view," she said. "Thank you."