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U.S. TV journalist Barbara Walters announces retirement

Journalist Barbara Walters arrives for the Time 100 gala celebrating the magazine's naming of the 100 most influential people in the world f
Journalist Barbara Walters arrives for the Time 100 gala celebrating the magazine's naming of the 100 most influential people in the world f

(Reuters) - Trailblazing broadcast journalist Barbara Walters, known for her interviews with world leaders and celebrities and the first woman to co-anchor a U.S. evening news program, said on Monday she will retire in the summer of 2014.

With tears in her eyes, Walters, 83, announced her upcoming resignation on "The View," the all-woman show she created in 1997.

"I have been on television for over 50 years," she said as her co-hosts watched. "In the summer of 2014 I plan to retire from appearing on television."

Walters described her career as amazing, fascinating, and sometimes bumpy. She said she is healthy and it was her decision to retire.

"This is what I want to do," she said as the audience applauded. "I've had an amazing career."

Until her retirement she will anchor and report for ABC and continue to work on "The View." Walters will also host a "20 Years of the 10 Most Fascinating People" special in December, an Oscars special, and a May career retrospective.

ABC sources said in March that, after more than five decades on U.S. television, Walters planned to retire in May 2014.

"There's only one Barbara Walters," ABC News President Ben Sherwood said in a statement ahead of her official announcement.

"And we look forward to making her final year on television as remarkable, path-breaking and news-making as Barbara herself. Barbara will always have a home at ABC News and we look forward to a year befitting her brilliant career, filled with exclusive interviews, great adventures and indelible memories," he added.

Walters had open heart surgery in 2010. She fainted, hit her head and suffered a concussion in January, and was then diagnosed with chicken pox, causing her to miss more than a month of work.

During her long career Walters was a leader for women journalists and said she hoped that her career had inspired other women to make a career in television.

Walters is known for her interviews on U.S. television with world leaders including Cuba's Fidel Castro, Britain's Margaret Thatcher, Saddam Hussein of Iraq and every U.S. president since Richard Nixon.

Walters also interviewed celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor, Angelina Jolie and Tom Cruise and hosted a yearly special TV show about the 10 most fascinating people of the year.

Walters, who has been with the ABC television network for 37 years, started her career in television journalism in 1961 as a writer on NBC's "Today." She later became the first woman to co-host.

In 1976, she became the first woman to co-anchor a television evening news broadcast on any U.S. network for "ABC Evening News." Walters has also worked as a producer and host of the ABC news magazine "20/20" and as a correspondent for ABC News.

ABC is a unit of Walt Disney Co.

(Reporting by Patricia Reaney; Additional reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Vicki Allen)

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