Rumors abounded last week that legendary newswoman Barbara Walters would retire in May 2014. Walters, 83, has had a storied broadcasting career, from her tenure on the “Today” show to her longtime partnership with ABC where she produced memorable specials, co-anchored the evening news, and co-hosted “20/20.” She currently co-hosts “The View,” the hit morning chat show she created with producer Bill Geddie in 1997.
Walters, however, struck down those rumors on Monday, April 1’s episode of “The View.” “There were many reports last week saying that I was retiring from ABC and there was an assumption that I would be making an announcement today,” Walters said. “However, here I am and I have no announcement to make.”
She added: “But I do say this: that if and when I might have an announcement to make, I will do it on this program, I promise.”
Rumors of Walters retirement comes after a series of health problems, including heart surgery in 2010 and a recent concussion and bout with chicken pox.
Walters is the daughter of Lou Walters, a theater producer who owned the New York nightclub the Latin Quarter.
Walters has been married four times to three different men. Her first husband was Robert Henry Katz, a business executive – their marriage was annulled after 11 months. She then married theatrical producer Lee Guber, with whom she has an adopted daughter. In 1981 she married Lorimar CEO Merv Adelson. They divorced in 1984 and later remarried in 1986 before divorcing again in 1992.
In college, Walters dated notorious gay lawyer Roy Cohn, the Republican who took pride in destroying many lives and careers during the Hollywood blacklist. In her 2008 autobiography, she explained her lifelong devotion to Cohn, who helped in the adoption of her daughter. In that same autobiography, she also admitted having an affair in the 1970s with Edward Brooke, a black U.S. senator from Massachusetts who was married at the time. It is unclear whether Walters was also married at the time. She ended the affair to protect the both of them from scandal.
Walters has been known to get even the most elusive public figures to open up to her, whether movies stars like Paul Newman and Katharine Hepburn or world leaders such as Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, and the Shah of Iran. She has interviewed every U.S. president and first lady since the Nixons. Her annual pre-Oscar specials, which she discontinued in 2010, were for years a tradition as much as the actual awards ceremony.
Gilda Radner parodied Walters with her Baba Wawa impersonation on “Saturday Night Live,” something that did not exactly make Walters happy at the time, although she now is able to laugh at it. One of Walters’ most famous and often mocked interview moments came when she asked Hepburn, “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?” Hepburn replied an oak because they are strong and pretty.
Walters has won multiple Emmy Awards and in 2007 was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.