By Breeanna Hare
(CNN) – Barbara Walters isn’t fully retiring, but The View has still given the veteran journalist a send-off to remember.
On Friday’s show, Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Clinton and Michael Douglas made surprise appearances as they all joined the current View co-hosts in wishing Walters well as she leaves on-camera work behind.
“I want to start by saying I can’t believe this day has come and I can’t believe it’s for real,” Clinton told Walters. “Because I don’t know what we’re all going to do without seeing you go from one place to another, asking questions that we’d all like to ask.”
True to form, Walters snuck in a few more of those questions Friday, asking Clinton whether she’ll run for president.
“Well, I am running … around the park,” Clinton quipped.
And when it came to Michael Douglas, who swore that Walters gives the best parties, the 84-year-old journalist couldn’t help but inquire about the actor’s relationship with wife Catherine Zeta-Jones, which hit a rough patch last summer. (These days, Douglas said, “Catherine and I are wonderful.”)
With that much curiosity still evidently brimming, why is Walters leaving? Well, keep in mind that she’s not leaving TV in general. She’ll still serve as executive producer of The View, and will make special appearances for ABC News when needed. It’s just that, as Walters said when she announced her retirement in May 2013, she has no interest in appearing on another TV program.
Walters began her national broadcast career in 1961 as a reporter, writer and panel member for NBC’s Today show before being promoted to co-host in 1974. By 1976, ABC had snatched her up for its own news programs.
At that network, Walters launched The Barbara Walters Specials and 10 Most Fascinating People before becoming a co-host and correspondent for ABC News’ 20/20 in 1984. Along the way, she’s interviewed every U.S. president and first lady since Richard and Pat Nixon.
Looking upon the numerous women who had looked up to her throughout her career, Walters said they were her legacy.
“How do you say goodbye to something like 50 years in television?” she said in conclusion. “How proud when I see all the young women who are making and reporting the news. If I did anything to help make that happen, that is my legacy. From the bottom of my heart, to all of you with whom I have worked and who have watched and been by my side, I can say: ‘Thank you.’ “
Ironically, one of the best-informed women in news had no idea what to expect for her farewell taping.
“Nobody told me what was going to happen today, so I couldn’t plan for it,” Walters told HLN’s A.J. Hammer after the taping. “Nobody told me that Hillary Clinton was going to show up. That line of women who said that maybe I inspired or influenced them? Nobody told me about that. Nobody told me that Oprah was going to come in! It was all just a wonderful surprise.”
Still soaking it in, Walters reflected, “I have to remember (all of this) on days that are not so great. I have to remember these women. I have to remember today.”
CNN’s Dana Ford and Alan Duke contributed to this report.