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Barbara Walters to retire from TV journalism

TelevisionABCBarbara WaltersThe View (tv program)NBCFidel Castro

Barbara Walters is saying goodbye to TV journalism.

After more than half a century in the industry, the veteran ABC News anchor plans to retire next summer, ABC announced Sunday night. Walters, 83, is set to make it official Monday morning on "The View."

And the network plans to make good use of her while it can. The legendary TV personality will continue to anchor and report for ABC as well as continue to appear on "The View" and anchor specials throughout the year.

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"I am very happy with my decision and look forward to a wonderful and special year ahead both on 'The View' and with ABC News," she said in a story posted Sunday night on ABCNews.go.com. "I created 'The View' and am delighted it will last beyond my leaving it."

Walters will retain her executive producer role on the long-running weekday gabfest.

Talk of Walter's retirement first emerged in late March after she underwent a health scare that included a hospital stay. It later turned out she'd contracted chicken pox. At the time the reports surfaced, she said simply that she had no announcement to make.

Now she does.

She tweeted to her followers Sunday night: "Big news — and I want to tell you first ... (Looking forward to one more great year!)" She directed them to the story on the ABC News website.

Walters has been a pioneer for women in the television industry. After working her way up from a researcher for NBC's "Today" show to become co-host of the morning program, she left her 15-year stint at NBC and moved over to ABC, where she would become the first woman to host an evening newscast, teaming with Harry Reasoner on the "ABC Evening News" in 1976. It was the start of a 37-year relationship with the network, which included co-hosting the evening newsmagazine "20/20" and hosting numerous prime-time specials.

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Her decades of groundbreaking work have included a range of high-profile interviews with countless world figures, statesmen and celebrities — including Fidel Castro and Vladimir Putin — as well as the first interview with Monica Lewinsky after the scandal involving President Bill Clinton. There was also fluffier fare. Walters has made a spectacle of "Most Fascinating People," a yearly special she hosts in December, spotlighting folks such as Tom Cruise and the "Jersey Shore" reality stars on MTV. She also hosted an annual interview show pegged to the Academy Awards.

"There's only one Barbara Walters," ABC News President Ben Sherwood said in a statement. "And we look forward to making her final year on television as remarkable, path-breaking and news-making as Barbara herself. Barbara will always have a home at ABC News and we look forward to a year befitting her brilliant career, filled with exclusive interviews, great adventures and indelible memories."

Don't count on her having a change of heart — it appears she's intent on finally being an observer.

"I do not want to appear on another program or climb another mountain," Walters said. "I want instead to sit on a sunny field and admire the very gifted women — and OK, some men too — who will be taking my place."

yvonne.villarreal@latimes.com

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TelevisionABCBarbara WaltersThe View (tv program)NBCFidel Castro
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