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The View brought the nostalgia Thursday morning as original co-hosts Joy Behar, Star Jones, Meredith Vieira, and Debbie Matenopoulos reunited to celebrate the show's 25th anniversary. Only Barbara Walters was absent as the ladies gathered at the Essex House in New York City, where they did their first chemistry test in 1997, to reminisce on their first auditions, the show's success, and even their biggest regrets.
The reunion opened with a flashback to their initial chemistry test, as the ladies revealed they were the very first group to sit down before Walters and producer Bill Geddie. "When Barbara stepped out, I learned later, she went into the back with Bill Geddie and said, 'We've got magic! We can put anybody together and it will be fabulous! Let's switch me out,'" recalled Jones. "And she switched out, and they brought you [Behar] in. And it worked like magic. They were convinced. And then they started mixing up all the groups, and it never worked the same."
Later, Vieira joked that she didn't think The View would be successful, as producers had to "bus in" audience members, some of whom didn't even speak English, during the show's early days. Of course, Walters always knew the show would be successful, and the original co-hosts praised her media savvy. "She felt, Barbara, that what we did was a reflection of her," said Behar, as Matenopoulos added that Walters "expected out of us the same that she put into something."
"One thing Barbara does not get as much credit for, she raised the whole conversation of diversity and put it on television," added Jones. "She made sure that everybody heard the opinion of an overweight Black woman. I'm a better journalist because of her."
When Behar asked the ladies if they have any "regrets" about their time on The View, Jones brought up her struggle with her health. "I remember not being strong enough to admit that I was in a depression and really ill about my health," she said. "I know all of y'all were probably worried."
"We were worried and we were also kind of, to be honest, a little bit angry about the dialogue because we felt, this isn't honest," recalled Vieira. "We purported to be the honest women on this show, and we stopped being totally honest with each other, which is not good."
The original co-hosts ended the reunion with a toast to both The View and Walters. "You know, when they talk about family it's sort of baloney. We really were," said Vieira. "We had our dysfunctions like every family, but we had each other's backs."
Here's to 25 more years, ladies!
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Claire Spellberg Lustig is the TV Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.