Revered journalist and television personality Barbara Walters is retiring after a career that spans six decades in the media.

Revered journalist and television personality Barbara Walters is retiring after a career that spans six decades in the media. Photo: AP

First Leno, then Letterman ... now Barbara?

The iconic American newscaster Barbara Walters has followed TV's two talk titans into the sunset and announced her retirement.

Walters, whose career in journalism spans six decades, will step down from hosting duties on her show, The View, on May 16.

From left, featured guest co-host, attorney Sunny Hostin, and regular co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg and Barbara Walters on The View.

From left, featured guest co-host, attorney Sunny Hostin, and regular co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg and Barbara Walters on The View. Photo: AP

She is 84 years old.

Walters got her break in the media as a writer and segment producer working on "women's interest" stories on the iconic US Today Show.

She subsequently served as a presenter of ABC Evening News, host of the current affairs program 20/20 and, since 1997, one of the hosts of the panel show The View.

Among her career highlights are one on one interviews with subjects as varied as Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, Libyan dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi, pop icon Michael Jackson and one-time presidential intern (and mistress) Monica Lewinsky.

In a wry footnote to American culture, the highest rating of them was Lewsinsky.

For most of her career, Walters has worked at the Disney-owned ABC network.

Disney's chairman and chief executive Bob Iger issued a brief but poignant statement, acknowledging Walters' peerless contribution to television journalism.

"In this business there are legends, there are icons, and then there is Barbara Walters," Iger said.

"She's a dear friend and colleague as well as someone I deeply admire, and it's impossible to fully convey her impact and influence on television.

"[Barbara] broke barriers, defied convention, made history and set the standard for journalistic excellence for more than 50 years.

"It's hard to imagine television without her."