A riotous kiss-fest broke out on Joy Behar’s farewell episode of “The View” on Friday morning.
The show, taped a few weeks ago, was Joy’s last official show after 16 years as one of the two original co-hosts on the show (the other being Barbara Walters). While this particular show was aired on tape (only two days shy of the show’s 16th anniversary on Aug. 11, 1997), Joy had her last “live” show on Thursday — adding up to a two-day farewell for Behar.
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On Friday’s show, the kisses broke out when one of the show’s surprise guests — Meredith Vieira — raised the subject of the many kisses Joy exchanged with women co-hosts and guests over the years.
A clip retrospective was then shown of Joy locking lips with everyone from Vieira and co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck to guests Jane Fonda and Joan Rivers.
Vieira then kissed Behar, Behar kissed Walters, co-hosts Sherri Shepherd and Whoopi Goldberg both jointly kissed Behar, and guest Regis Philbin kissed Shepherd and Goldberg.
Shepherd, Goldberg and Walters were seated in the first row of the studio audience for this special show, which was hosted by comedian Mario Cantone and styled as a “This is Your Life” retrospective of Joy’s 16 years on the show.
Besides Philbin and Vieira, the other surprise guests were comedians Joan Rivers and Susie Essman, pal Alan Alda, plus singer Tony Bennett, who serenaded Joy while she danced with Alda.
In between segments, celebrity well-wishers on tape included Nathan Lane, Debbie Reynolds, Aziz Ansari, Jane Lynch, Carol Burnett and Steve Martin.
In the show’s final minutes, Joy was seated on-stage around the “View” table with Barbara, Whoopi and Sherri. “I love you, Joy. I loved every moment that we worked together,” Walters told her, and it sounded believable too.
Behar told Walters she loved her too, but Joy’s final remarks were a combination of sentiment and the caustic comedy that is her trademark. Introducing her final words, she said she wanted to say something to Walters that she has wanted to say for 16 years. Then she said: “F— Harry Reasoner!” The f-word was bleeped, of course, but the message was received by Walters, who nevertheless commented that few in the audience would understand the words’ meaning.
Here’s what it meant: Joy was acknowledging that Walters, 83, has had a career (not to mention a lifespan) that has long eclipsed that of Reasoner, who reportedly made Walters’ life a living hell when the two were paired as national ABC News co-anchors in 1976 (an assignment that made Walters the first national female news anchor in American TV history). Reasoner died in 1991.