Iconic TV personality and broadcast journalist Barbara Walters spent several years out of the spotlight prior to her death in December 2022. She hadn't been seen in public since 2016, according to reports. However, she was never far from people's minds at The View, the daytime talk show she created in 1997.
The talk show’s former lineup of hosts — Whoopie Goldberg, Joy Behar, Sunny Hostin, and Sara Haines — reunited in person for the first time in a year and a half in August 2021 to kick off its 25th season. As part of the reunion, they raised a toast to Walters, saying “For you, Barbara!”
Given Walters' role in television, here are more details about the TV icon and her cause of death.
When did Barbara Walters retire?
In May 2013, Walters announced her impending retirement from TV journalism. She called the end to a career in which she co-hosted not just The View but ABC Evening News and 20/20.
Although Walters admitted, “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," following her announcement, according to CNN, recent reports suggest she was "pushed out."
During a 2023 interview with The Cut, Lisa Ling revealed intricate details of a conversation she had with Walters amid the news of her retirement. During the conversation, Ling asked Walters if she planned on "lounging in a hammock in Tahiti." To her surprise, Walters responded, "They’re making me quit." During her remaining years, Walters never admitted she was forced to leave her own show.
Walters eventually retired in May 2014, at which point ABC News dubbed its New York City headquarters, located at 47 W. 66th Street, The Barbara Walters Building.
Her retirement earned a tribute from The Washington Post's Hank Stuever, who wrote, “She’s one of America’s last good ears, allowing even the most notorious among us to have a say, asking many (if not always all) of the questions we wanted answers to, while never seeming to make the occasion about herself.”
Years after retiring, Walters appearances happened less frequently up until the point where fans took to social media to find out where she was and what she had been doing. “Where is Barbara Walters? Is she okay?” someone tweeted in January 2021.
What happened to Barbara Walters?
In December 2020, the tabloid Globe reported that Walters was living with dementia, the gossip coming two months after a source told OK! that the journalist is “in bad, bad shape” and “spends most of her time alone.”
Walters hadn't gone public with any such diagnosis, but in a 2015 interview on Oprah’s Master Class, she did mention a comment about Alzheimer’s that her daughter made. “My daughter said to me recently, ‘Mom, when you have Alzheimer’s, you can come down and live next to me,’” she said, according to HuffPost. “Not ‘if you have Alzheimer’s,’ but ‘Mom, when you have Alzheimer’s.’ I take that as a very loving compliment.”
In February 2020, former View co-host Jenny McCarthy told Us Weekly she heard that Walters was “in a place of not doing great,” and that she talked with Sherri Shepherd, another colleague from The View, about it. “That woman is a juggernaut that’ll just keep going, no matter what,” McCarthy added.
Although a representative for Walters refuted McCarthy’s claim saying, “I see her every two to three weeks, and she’s doing just fine,” she lived out her last days in her New York apartment suffering from advanced dementia, according to RadarOnline.
Just before her death, an insider told the media outlet "Barbara is fading a little more every day. She’s close to the end and her team is scrambling to manage affairs just the way Barbara would want them. Sadly, her dementia has been getting worse. [Her] caretakers give her the opportunity to make everyday decisions, but more often than not she’ll stare at them blankly.”
Walters passed away on Dec. 30, 2022, about two months after she turned 93.