March 29 (Bloomberg) -- Barbara Walters, the first woman to co-anchor a network evening newscast, plans to retire in May 2014, said a person with knowledge of the situation.
Walters, age 81 according to Marquis Who’s Who, will make the announcement herself in a few weeks, said the person, who requested anonymity because the plans haven’t been made public.
Walt Disney Co.’s ABC will honor Walters with a number of specials, the person said. She joined ABC News in 1976, becoming the first woman to co-anchor a network newscast. Today she is co-owner and co-host of “The View,” a daytime talk show on ABC, and produces special network reports, including the annual “The 10 Most Fascinating People.”
Jeffrey Schneider, a spokesman for ABC News, declined to comment. Cindi Berger, chief executive officer of PMK-BNC in New York and a spokeswoman for Walters, didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.
Walters returned to “The View” this month after being out since January after a fall at the British ambassador’s residence in Washington. In May 2010, she missed several months while recovering from surgery to repair a faulty heart valve.
While being treated at the hospital for the fall, Walters was diagnosed with chicken pox. On the March 4 episode of “The View,” Walters said she caught the illness giving a “well-known actor” a New Year’s hug and kiss on the cheek.
Walters has interviewed every American president and first lady since Richard Nixon, according to a biography at the website of “The View.” She became nationally known as a television personality on NBC’s “Today” show in the 1960s, eventually becoming co-host of the program.
Over the years she interviewed Russia’s Boris Yeltsin, China’s Jiang Zemin, former U.K. prime minister Margaret Thatcher, Libya’s Muammar Qadaffi and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, according to her biography.
In 1977, Walters was the first journalist to arrange a joint interview with Egypt President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.
Walter’s 1999 interview with Monica Lewinsky, the first TV interview granted by the former Clinton White House intern, remains the highest-rated news program aired by a single network, according to the biography.
She was also the first American journalist to interview Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and scored the first interview with President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
In September 2004, after 25 years as co-host and chief correspondent for ABC News’ “20/20,” Walters left the show to focus on “Barbara Walters Specials.”
Disney, based in Burbank, California, gained 0.6 percent to $56.80 yesterday in New York. The stock has gained 14 percent this year.
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