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May 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Barbara Walters, who began her network television career in 1961 as a 32-year-old writer on NBC’s Today show and eventually became a celebrity in her own right, parodied by the late comedian Gilda Radner as “Babba Wawa,” has announced that she will retire next year. Her announcement first appeared on the ABC News website Sunday night. “I’m 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. The coming year will include a number of Walters specials for ABC, including a 20 Years of 10 Most Fascinating People in December, an Oscars special (despite the fact that she had announced in 2010 that she was discontinuing her Oscar specials), and concluding with a career retrospective. She insisted that when she departs, she will not return. In an interview with the New York Times, Walters said, “When I go, there is not going to be any, ‘Please can I have another appearance?’ … This is it.” And, in a separate interview with the Washington Post, she added, “I do not want to appear on another program or climb another mountain.” Both today’s announcement and next year’s final retrospective were orchestrated to take place during the May ratings “sweeps.” Commented Washington Post TV columnist Lisa de Moraes: “So here we are, in the thick of the May sweep, and it’s Broadcast Upfront Week, when the broadcast networks spend bajillions of dollars putting on dog-and-pony shows to talk up their new primetime shows and stars to advertisers. And Babs just stole ABC’s spotlight.”