Rosie O'Donnell Reveals Why She Wasn't Part of the Barbara Walters Tribute

She took to TikTok to provide an explanation for fans of The View.

When legendary journalist Barbara Walters died on Dec. 30 at age 93, countless stars and fans reflected on her successful, decades-long career. Walters was a trailblazer in the industry, hosting Today and ABC News, where she became the first female anchor for an evening news program, per CNN. But Walters is also well known for creating The View, the daytime talk show hosted exclusively by women, when she was 68. It was only fitting that the show honored Walters with a tribute on Jan. 3, its first episode after a holiday hiatus. Past and present co-hosts were there to share fond memories of Walters, but viewers noticed that Rosie O'Donnell—who co-hosted the show from 2006 to 2007 and 2014 to 2015—was missing from the emotional episode. Read on to find out why the actor and comedian didn't participate.

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The memorial episode paid homage to the late journalist.

Barbara Walters 2006
Everett Collection/Shutterstock

There was no shortage of kind words for Walters during Tuesday's tribute. Current co-host Whoopi Goldberg stated that Walters was "the reason we're all sitting here—if not for her I don't know where most of us would be," CNN reported. Joy Behar added that Walters was "the original role model for everyone else. We have to give the woman a lot of credit."

Star Jones, Sherri Shepherd, and Meredith Vieira were a few former hosts there to further speak on Walters' legacy, joining in-person and via video call. Sitting next to Walters was the "best seat in the house at any social event … because she could tell you everything about anybody in the room," Jones said, per CNN. "Half the time, she had either interviewed them, done a story on them, heard a story about them, and she would dish with the best of them."

The episode featured several clips of Walters' career, many of which included O'Donnell—even though she wasn't actively involved with the tribute. On Twitter, fans speculated that the former co-host was deliberately not included.

"I know the show has bad blood with Rosie O'Donnell, but it would've been nice if they'd included her today. #theview," one tweet reads. Another Twitter user wrote, "I wish @Rosie was included on the @TheView's remembrance of Barbara Walters show."

With questions circulating, O'Donnell spoke out to clear the air.

O'Donnell said she made the decision that was best for her.

The hosts of "The View" in 2015
The View / YouTube

Contrary to Twitter speculation, a spokesperson for The View confirmed O'Donnell did receive an invitation, TVLine reported. Initially, O'Donnell's representatives attributed her absence solely to a scheduling conflict. But in a video posted to her TikTok, O'Donnell explained that she may not have wanted to be there regardless.

"Yeah, they invited me, but I wasn't able to make it," O'Donnell said. "You know, I didn't want to be in a big group of people—I don't know—I was worried that I would get upset and um, didn't want to do that, so, there you go."

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Her fans voiced support for her decision.

Rosie O'Donnell at the premiere of "Russian Doll" in 2019
lev radin / Shutterstock.com

O'Donnell's tone was noticeably subdued in the explainer video, and fans seemed to pick up on that. "Self-care is so important," one commenter wrote. "Glad you took care of yourself."

Others commended O'Donnell for respecting her own grieving process. "You deserve to grieve in your own way," one comments reads. Another added, "I love this. It's a great boundary and good self-care. I totally get it and respect you for it."

For those wondering if she ended up tuning in, O'Donnell did respond to a comment to confirm she watched the tribute—although she didn't provide any thoughts on the episode.

O'Donnell posted a tribute to Walters in a separate TikTok video.

Barbara Walters and Rosie O'Donnell at the 2006 Daytime Emmy Awards
s_bukley / Shutterstock

Prior to the tribute on The View, O'Donnell shared her own heartfelt message about Walters on social media.

"Very sad to hear about Barbara Walters' passing," she said in the Dec. 30 TikTok video. "Although, 93, man, who wouldn't take that? What a long and eventful, legendary life she had—spoke to every prominent world leader in memory, interviewed everyone who was anyone, and I was lucky enough to be in her orbit for a good many years."

O'Donnell said that she and Walters attended Broadway shows together, adding a lighthearted anecdote about that experience. "Whenever we'd go backstage, I'd like try to help her over the steps … and she would always smack my hand and tell me to leave her alone," O'Donnell recalled. "She knew what she was doing, I could tell you that."

To conclude, O'Donnell emphasized the barriers that Walters broke down for women: "She was the first and will always be remembered."

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