Fans, Fun and Oprah: Barbara Walters Celebrates Her Final Day on The View

Barbara Walters’ final cohost appearance on The View

Ida Mae Astute/ABC/Getty

updated 05/16/2014 AT 2:35 PM ET

originally published 05/16/2014 AT 1:55 PM ET

Barbara Walters said goodbye to The View, the woman-powered talk show she created for ABC in 1997, Friday morning.

“I may be available for supermarket openings and charity auctions,” she joked at the hour’s close before going on to mention her interviews of the powerful and famous on her specials and then on to her many years as the unmistakeable head of the table on The View, on which she’ll remain executive producer.

This had been billed, somewhat delicately, as Walters’s farewell to daytime television, but her summing up sounded very much like a pronounced “I’m outta here!”

It was a quiet sendoff compared to Thursday’s show, which brought back all the women who ve appeared as her View cohosts, including Meredith Vieira, Rosie O’Donnell and Debbie Matenopoulos. This was something I had not expected to see in my lifetime.

My guess is the big ammo is being reserved for Friday night’s two-hour special, Barbara Walters: Her Story (ABC, 9 p.m. ET/PT).

The highlight of the finale – which included visits from Michael Douglas and Hillary Clinton, both with warm memories to share and new projects to plug – came when Oprah Winfrey welcomed a long and varied parade of other newswomen, including Diane Sawyer, Connie Chung and Kathie Lee Gifford. They lined up single file like fans at a book-signing as Walters waited to to bestow kisses.

“This is my legacy,” said Walters, gesturing to them all. “These are my legacy.”

That legacy also includes Oprah, of course, who is Barbara Walters multiplied exponentially.

Oprah introduced a clip from Her Story in which Walters discussed her miserable time as the first female co-anchor with the inhospitable Harry Reasoner. But that failure drove Walters on to her greatest achievement – and the thing that saved her career, she said: Her long, long string of interview specials, which allowed her to develop (and institutionalize) a gauzy but shrewd technique that lured anyone with serious power or celebrity down to the pop-culture river and immersed them and baptized them.


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