Hillary Clinton and Oprah Winfrey joined just about every female anchor currently on network TV to bid farewell today to Barbara Walters, who is retiring this week from The View and ABC News.
After taping a reunion with current and former co-hosts of The View (welcome back, Star Jones, Rosie O’Donnell and Lisa Ling!) that aired earlier today, Walters, 84, rejoined current hosts Whoopi Goldberg, Jenny McCarthy and Sherri Shepherd for one last lovefest behind the desk for a final show that’ll run Friday. Dressed in a white jacket and black skirt, Walters walked on stage for one last time as the crowd chanted “Barbara! Barbara!” Pictures from her long broadcast history (Walters and the Carters; Walters and Hugh Downs) flashed in the background.
Hillary Clinton was The View’s first guest: “I don’t know what we are going to do without you,” she said. Walters responded by insisting Clinton take her place on the talk show. Naturally, it wouldn’t be a typical moment with Clinton without at least one person asking if she was going to run for president.
“I am running … around the park,” she replied.
Michael Douglas stopped by to wax on about Walters’ legendary dinner parties, and a clip featuring Cheri Oteri as Barbara Walters being interviewed by Walters brought down the house. During the breaks, audience members (including JR Smith from the New York Knicks) were encouraged to take pictures of and tweet about Walters, who kept things fun and feisty behind the cameras. ”I just want you to know I’m going to buy the Clippers!” she exclaimed to a roaring crowd, before reminding everyone that she’ll remain the co-executive producer of The View (and still show up for occasional primetime specials, no doubt).
Next up was Oprah Winfrey, who called Walters a pioneer and thanked her for having the strength to get up every morning in the ’70s and sit opposite the surly and ungenial Harry Reasoner. (“He was a d—,” Goldberg said off-camera. “I’ll never be an asshole like that.”) To demonstrate the impact she had on so many up-and-coming women journalists, Winfrey was then joined on stage by Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Jane Pauley, Connie Chung, Joan Lunden, Paula Zahn, Robin Roberts and many others who came to say goodbye.
“It’s like Mt. Rushmore,” whispered one audience member.
Walters kept her emotions in check when giving the last word. “I will have time to get Botox… supermarket openings!” she joked. “Now that it’s all done, I can take a deep breath and enjoy my view.”
Walters’ last installment of The View will air at 11 ET Friday. Later that night, ABC will air a two-hour tribute to Walters.