Whatever happened to Barbara Walters?

Barbara Walters, the esteemed American broadcast journalist, best-selling author, and iconic TV personality, made the difficult decision to leave The View in 2014. Back in 1997, Walters created the successful woman-led talk show for ABC, and two decades later it's still on the air

Ten years prior to her retirement from daytime television, she retired from prime time at the age of 73 — after a substantial 25 years of conducting interviews for 20/20. When Walters announced her retirement from The View, it was hard for audiences imagine that actually happening. Would there really come a day when you'd turn on your television and not see Walters' face on the network? As it turns out, yes, that's exactly what happened.

So, where oh where has the legendary journalist and personality gone? And just what has she been up to since leaving The View in 2014? The List has the scoop for you.

She only partially retired

You may not see Walters very much these days, but she's still only partially retired. Just as she continued to star on The View after stepping away from 20/20, Walters career is simply on the back burner. In 2017, Variety reported on The View's new executive producer, Brian Teta. For years, Walters had served as an executive producer for the show. Retirement would certainly change all of that, right? Nope. Even when Teta was hired, Walters remained. As of late 2017, Teta worked in tandem with Walters.

Even beyond The View, Walters remained under contract with ABC post-retirement. In an interview with New York Post, Walters said, "I'm not looking for another job, but there are other things I might want to do." She hinted at ideas for new shows, possibly even outside of ABC, but added, "Maybe not necessarily at all. But I like that process of creating." Fair enough. 

Lounging "in bed until 3 in the afternoon"

On the Friday of Walters' final week on The View, she awoke early for an appearance on ABC's Good Morning America to discuss her retirement plans. The following Monday, she'd finally get to fully experience her sweet new lifestyle. "I'm going to lounge in bed until 3 in the afternoon," Walters told ABC News. Can you blame her? 

"I have always had a schedule. I've always had deadlines," she explained, "I've always had things to do." She went on to say how she was greatly looking forward to having "nothing" going on. As a woman who worked so hard for so long, her days of lounging around and keeping her schedule empty naturally didn't last forever. When speaking with the New York Post, Walters said she was heading to Europe with a friend on May 16, 2014 — the very day her final episode of The View aired. Hopefully she enjoyed at least a couple of restful mornings!

Out of retirement for... Bradley Cooper?

While it's true that Walters wasn't planning a full retirement, she did announce that she would be stepping away from ABC's 10 Most Fascinating People. Fast-forward to 2015 and it became obvious that her decision didn't stick.

"I know we said last year was our last, but there are just too many fascinating people out there… and you never pass up the opportunity to interview Oprah, Neil [Patrick Harris], Chelsea [Handler], or Scarlett [Johansson]," she said in an announcement (via Deadline). Although she didn't mention Bradley Cooper in her statement, it was clear that she found him, um, fascinating.

Entertainment Tonight quotes Walters telling Cooper, "I could just sit and stare at you but that would take too much time." She also went on to call the actor "very screwable," in addition to "sexy" and "handsome." Did she come out of retirement just to meet Bradley Cooper? We wouldn't fault her if she did. Get it, Babs! 

She hasn't been seen in public since 2016

In November 2016, Radar Online reported that Walters hadn't been photographed — at least not in public — for over 130 days. On July 13 of the same year, she attended the premier of Woody Allen's movie, Café Society, in New York. While 130 days sounds like a long time, that number has grown exponentially. As of this writing, Walters still hasn't been seen, nor photographed, in public.

This is, of course, concerning. From a strictly statistical standpoint, she is certainly fighting an uphill battle. According to World Bank data provided to Google, life expectancy in the United States is around 79 years. In September 2019, Walters will turn 89. You've likely heard the old adage that retirement can be a kiss of death of sorts — and there is some truth to this. A study conducted by the American Journal of Epidemiology found that, compared to still employed individuals, retirees had a 51 percent increase in mortality. It's not exactly a pleasant thought, but it does support why so many are fearful over her health.

She's been largely silent since 2017

Fueling even more concern about Walters' well-being is the fact that's she been abnormally quiet. In October 2017, a video of Walters interviewing Corey Feldman on The View resurfaced. At that time, which was in 2013, Feldman was detailing abuse experienced at the hands of powerful men in Hollywood. Knowing what we now know about Harvey Weinstein and other members of Hollywood's elite, the interview is painful to watch. Walters rebuts Feldman's claims and even tells him that he's "damaging an entire industry." In the wake of the Me Too movement, some felt Walters should publicly apologize to Feldman. However, Walters went silent on social media a month before the clip made its rounds. 

Her last retweet was sent on September 28, 2017 and her final authored tweet was just three days prior, in which she wrote: "Thanks for all of the warm birthday wishes from far and wide. I appreciate everyone who reached out on my special day." And since then? Radio silence across all platforms. Seems she's joined the club of celebs who became recluses.

Is Walters' health failing?

Since Walters hasn't been seen or heard from much recently, imaginations have been running wild. In September 2017, TMZ reported that Walters has become "forgetful, fearful of falling, and isolated." Not true, says Walters' PR rep, Cindi Berger. When speaking with Fox News, Berger did her utmost to clear up the rumors, saying, "I see Barbara every 2-3 weeks and she's fine." Berger further added, "I'm actually seeing her next week for tea." In one last clarification, Berger told the network news that there was "no truth" to TMZ's claims.

Perhaps Walters is simply enjoying her down time — for once — and, after a lifetime of making public appearances, just isn't feeling it anymore. Berger didn't provide any explanation regarding what Walters' has been up to as of late, other than having occasional tea dates, of course, but she definitely made one thing crystal clear: Barbara Walters is alive and well.

Is Walters planning her own funeral?

Despite Walters' rep's positive remarks on the then-88-year-old's health, conflicting reports have continued to pick up steam. In June 2018, Radar Online spoke with an anonymous source who claimed Walters is busy planning her own funeral. Say what now? "She got the idea to call it her 'Exit Plan' from her late friend, writer Nora Ephron," the source told the site. Ephron really did plan her own funeral, and the two were, in fact, close friends, so that part checks out.

Walters is a spectacular journalist so she'd certainly have the talent for writing up an "exit plan," but it's hard to know if this story really holds any water. Although Waters' PR rep Cindi Berger has not yet commented on this claim in Walters' behalf, she did definitively shut down TMZ's earlier claims — which also stemmed from an anonymous source — that the TV icon is in poor health. Hopefully Berger will clear this all up soon.

She has had some health scares, though

While Walters may, indeed, be A-okay, she generally isn't one to publicize her health struggles. When speaking at the Breast Cancer Research Symposium and Awards luncheon in October 2014, the then-85-year-old matriarch opened up about her personal connection to the disease.

"Some years back, I discovered a small lump in my breast," Walters revealed to the audience (via Us Weekly), "I had a lumpectomy." Walters said she hadn't discussed it publicly, up until this point, as she felt "there was no reason to." Instead, Walters elected to tell just a few people. She reassured those in attendance, saying, "I am fine, I've had no recurrence." 

In 2010, Walters also had to undergo heart surgery to replace an aortic valve. Although she did announce her upcoming surgery plans on The View, she kept her condition private for quite some time. "I have known about this condition for a while now," she admitted.

A thoughtful dedication set for 2019

We haven't been graced with Barbara Walters' presence — either in public or online — in recent years, but she's still very much a part of a project planned for 2019. At the outset of 2018, Sarah Lawrence College began building a $35 million campus center, which they've already named the "Barbara Walters Campus Center." As explained on Sarah Lawrence's site, Walters is an "esteemed alumna" of the college and donated a generous $15 million for the building's construction.

Although the college acknowledged that Walters was unable to attend the ceremony marking the beginning of construction, Sarah Lawrence President Cristle Collins Judd recited a message from Walters, saying, in part, "We can look ahead to a place of study, contemplation, and socializing that will be a focus that the College has not had before." The 34,800 square foot center is expected to open in fall 2019. Hopefully Walters will make an appearance for the ribbon cutting.