On This Day: ‘The View’ Airs for the First Time in 1997

by Suzanne Halliburton

Women of The View mix it up and talk politics and other provocative topics most every weekday. It’s difficult to believe now that when it premiered on this day 25 years ago today, it basically was an experiment that could go either way.

But fans started embracing The View almost immediately. The chemistry between the women, who spanned three generations, was both spicy and smooth, depending on the day and topic. The moderator was noted journalist Meredith Vieira, who could be your next-door neighbor. Star Jones, who came to fame as a legal analyst for the O.J. Simpson trial, was well-versed in any topic. Joy Behar, the former teacher turned comedian, could be funny and chat about serious issues. Debbie Matenopoulos was only 22. In a few weeks, she’d gone from MTV production assistant to a host on a fledgling network talk show.

Then there was the venerable Barbara Walters, one of the most well-respected journalists in the country. The View was her idea. And it always would open with Walters’ intro:

“I’ve always wanted to do a show with women of different generations, backgrounds and views,” Walters said on Aug. 11, 1997. “This is that show. We call it The View.”

The View social media team tweeted a photo of the first day.

Original Co-Hosts Reunited Earlier This Year

Earlier this year, the original co-hosts of The View met for dinner and a mini-reunion. Walters was the only one missing. She’s 92 now and hasn’t been seen publicly in several years. Meanwhile, Behar is the only one in the group who still is a co-host.

The View celebrated its 25th anniversary for the past season. It’s currently in a summer hiatus and will return with new episodes after Labor Day.

Several of the original co-hosts posted photos from their reunion dinner.

Last week, The View introduced two permanent co-hosts. Alyssa Farah Griffin, after a months-long tryout, moved to full-time co-host and will serve as the show’s conservative voice. At 32, she’s also the youngest woman at the table. Plus, Ana Navarro earned full-time status. She’ll probably be on at least two days a week as she commutes from her home in Miami. The show now has had as many different co-hosts as it does seasons.

And 25 years after it premiered, The View still is pulling in big ratings. According to Nielsen, The View topped all day-time talk shows and news programs that either ran on network TV or in syndication. The show averaged 2.31 million viewers per episode in its last week before hiatus. Live with Kelly and Ryan ranked second with 2.17 million. Dr. Phil was third (2.03 million), followed by Today Third Hour (1.98 million) and The Talk (1.48 million).

The View co-hosts for season 26. (ABC/Lou Rocco)