ABC News icon Barbara Walters, who broke barriers for women in broadcast journalism and became one of the most revered interviewers and relaxing presences in television history over the course of more than a half-century on the air, is set to retire in May of next year. "I hear Barbara Walters may be finally ready to hand up her microphone. I've learned a plan has been put in place for Walters to announce her retirement, eyed for May 2014," reports Deadline's Nellie Andreeva, who adds that "she would be given a big sendoff with retrospectives and other special content in the weeks leading to her retirement that would celebrate her 52-year broadcast career." The retirement has been confirmed by multiple sources.
The 83-year-old Walters hasn't announced the news herself, but rumors have been swirling for the past few years, after news of health issues and changes at her current gig. Back in May of 2010, Walters underwent an aortic valve replacement that sidelined her from TV for several months. IN January, she was diagnosed with the chicken pox. Then, earlier this month, when her co-host Joy Behar announced she was departing from The View, the daytime staple that has given new life to Walters's onscreen presence for the past 16 years, other whispers suggested that Walters was considering stepping down from the show herself, only to be swallowed up by another rumor that another co-host, the fiery Elisabeth Hasselbeck, was also leaving the show.
But make no mistake: Walters is the star. Always has been. She began as a young writer on the Today show and, in 1963, became co-host of the morning show — even though it would take more than a decade for NBC to give her the title. In 1976, she moved to ABC, where she became the first female co-host of the network evening news. Beginning in 1979, Walters hosted 20/20... for 20 years. Her annual Oscar interview special became a TV event, and The View still is for millions of viewers a day. Many expect Walters to announce her retirement on the show, and many more will be watching for that on Friday.