Whether you love or hate The View, since 1997, it has thrived as one of the most popular and controversial talk shows on daytime television. Television icon Barbara Walters created the show as a platform for women to discuss the hot topics of the day.
To distinguish The View from the typical talk shows that feature a man behind a desk interviewing a revolving slate of celebrities, Walters envisioned The View as a roundtable featuring women of different ages and backgrounds. TV host Debbie Matenopoulos was the youngest of the four panelists.
The View Featured Women of Different Backgrounds
Walters explained she always wanted to do a show with women of different generations, backgrounds, and views. The other original members were broadcast journalist and working mother Meredith Vieira; lawyer Star Jones, then in her 30s and somebody who’s “done almost everything and will say almost anything”; and comedian Joy Behar.
In Walter’s perfect world, she would join the group whenever she wanted. Walters has long since retired, and Behar is the only original cast member still on the show. The current lineup includes entertainer Whoopi Goldberg, lawyer Sunny Hostin, and television host Sara Haines.
Laughs Were Coming at Debbie
Matenopoulos was an MTV production assistant when a chance meeting with Walters led to an audition for The View. At 22 years old, she was inexperienced and frequently out of step with her co-hosts. The laughs started coming at her, not with her.
She was parodied on Saturday Night Live by Ana Gasteyer, Claire Danes, Cameron Diaz, and Sarah Michelle Gellar as being an uninformed ditz. Eventually, SNL invited Matenopoulos on as a guest, and she played herself. Her contract with The View was not renewed in 1999. She was replaced by Lisa Ling.
The View has Become ‘Super Political’
Matenopoulos recently looked back on her time on the show and reflected that it had strayed far from its original focus. She noted that The View was supposed to just have a bunch of women from different backgrounds sitting around a table talking about topics of the day.
She added that the show has become “super political” when it was meant to be a family-type discussion with women representing “your mom, your grandmother, your aunt, your cousins, and your younger sister” chatting about the same topic. She added it was supposed to be a fun discussion.
The ‘Fun’ Leaked Out of the Show
As the show became more political, a lot of the “fun” has leaked out, she said, although as the show celebrates its 25th anniversary, its popularity continues. Meghan McCain in particular was a political lightning rod, and Goldberg, the current moderator, recently completed a two-week suspension from the show.
Goldberg made an ill-advised statement that the Holocaust was “not about race.” She has since met with several Holocaust educators and apologized in a manner that was accepted by most Jewish groups. She has since been reinstated.
Debbie Almost Skipped The View Audition
Back in the 1997 premiere episode, Walters introduced Matenopoulos as “a 22-year-old just starting out”. She was an intern for MTV and a journalism major at New York University before joining The View. Matenopoulos told USA Today she nearly skipped the audition due to nerves.
She’d met the casting agent at a friend’s going-away party and showed up (unshowered) for a spontaneous meeting with Walters and producer Bill Geddie flaunting pink hair, wearing a black, A-line miniskirt, and a baby tee bearing John Travolta’s face and referencing his “Welcome Back, Kotter” character, Vinnie Barbarino.
Walters Welcomed Her to Audition
Once there, she said, she “immediately felt way in over my head” and decided to leave before auditioning, but found Walters standing in the doorway. “And she said, ‘Oh, baby, I’m so glad you came. Come on!'” Matenopoulos remembered, thinking she couldn’t possibly leave now.
At the quarter-century mark, Matenopoulos looked back on what it meant to be the “wild child” of the show. She recalled that she was young and partying all night. She was the youngest person in history to be on a daytime TV show, and her behavior made the producers nervous.
They Tried to Tell Her She Was Too Young
Matenopoulos was the youngest person in history to be on a daytime show, and she realized her bosses thought she was a loose cannon. Now, she admits, they weren’t wrong, and she’s grateful it was before social media.
Matenopoulos said she knew her party-animal behavior embarrassed Walters at the time. But now she thinks it might have created good press for the show. And today, she notes, her wild ways would be considered pretty mild. Back then, she says, they wanted to sweep everything under the rug.
Kardashians Changed People’s Attitudes
Now, she observes, people say the craziest stuff, and the crazier the better. People like that because it garners publicity and goes viral. She credits the Kardashians with changing people’s attitudes, although she doesn’t feel that even at her craziest, she was as wild as they are.
To show how things have changed, as the show’s 25th anniversary approached and McCain, the daughter of the late Senator John McCain, prepared to leave, Matenopoulos’ name was floated as a replacement. A spokesperson for Matenopoulos acknowledged that she retained a fondness for the show.
Return to The View
But Matenopoulos had moved on and had several other deals in the works, including two food shows and her own lifestyle show, which did come together in the end. Still, the spokesperson added she would never say never to returning to her first television home.
A 2021 appearance ended in a catfight between Matenopoulos and Ana Navarro, who was also being considered as a regular host when McCain departed. Debbie told Page Six that Navarro was “mean” and “icy” to her. Matenopoulos appeared on the Flashback Friday show, coming on for a “Hot Topics” segment.
Iced Out by Navarro
Matenopoulos was reflecting on her time working with the show’s creator, legendary journalist Barbara Walters. But while things might have seemed fine to all viewers, Matenopoulos later claimed on the Michelle Collins Show on SiriusXM that Navarro “was not nice.”
She told Collins that Navarro was kind of “hateful” to her and wouldn’t look her in the eyes. Backstage and on-air, Debbie insisted, Navarro was not nice to her. She said Navarro was nice to everyone else – just not her. Matenopoulos seemed taken aback by Navarro’s alleged behavior.
Other Hosts were Catty and Mean
Matenopoulos was clear that things were fine with other co-hosts, including Behar and Haines. But she criticized the hosts in general for their reputation of being kind of being catty and mean and hateful to other women, adding, “that’s not what Barbara intended at all.”
McCain concurred as she stepped away. She wrote in Variety that the producers can’t control hosts, manage conflict, or control leaking. She wrote working at The View brings out the worst in people and that all the women and the staff are working under conditions where the culture feels like quicksand.
Debbie Joins Celebrity Deathmatch
After The View dropped her, Matenopoulos joined the TV Guide Channel as one of their first on-air hosts. She also starred in the claymation show Celebrity Deathmatch as herself. A favorite of MTV viewers, Celebrity Deathmatch features clay-animated versions of really annoying, but in many cases, popular, celebrities.
The celebs go after one another in a boxing ring. But these are not your ordinary boxing matches. Most matches end in death, hence the show’s title. The popular show ran from 1998-2002 and had periodic revivals. MTV may be reviving the show again with Ice Cube joining as an executive producer
Debbie Plays Interviewer on Deathmatch
Deathmatch had three regular characters: commentators Johnny Gomez (played by Maurice Schlafer from 1998-2002 and Jim Thornton from 2006-07) and his co-host Nick Diamond (Len Maxwell from 1998 to 2002 and Chris Edgerly from 2006-07). Nick’s character hates Debbie, who portrays an interviewer.
In the original production, Mills Lane played himself. He was replaced by Edgerly in the reboot. Miles was the official referee of the Deathmatch ring; he always starts matches by saying “Let’s get it on!” and shows that he is one referee that cannot be knocked down with one hit.
Mills Suffers a Stroke
His other catchphrase is “I’ll allow it!” This is his standard statement when either fighter makes a disreputable move, like using foreign objects. The phrase implies just about anything is legal in the ring. Biting, guns, and a dirty fighting ring are his only reservations.
The real Mills stopped voicing his character after suffering a stroke in 2002. Mills was an authentic boxing ref. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in June 2013 and voted into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame on August 10 of the same year.
Matenopoulos Leaves Deathmatch for Motherhood
Matenopoulos played herself in the part of an interviewer, succeeding Stacy Cornbred after her “death.” In the show, she hates Nick and does not prepare for her interviews. Matenopoulos’ character often believes herself to be smarter than she really is, but comes off as self-centered and unprofessional.
Matenopoulos left the show late in the fourth season to go on maternity leave. It was a critical time. Her daughter, Alexandra, now 7, was born shortly after. Matenopoulos has since gone on to one successful TV venture after another.
Suffers Nine Miscarriages After Alexander is Born
Matenopoulos recently revealed that after Alexandra was born, she suffered nine miscarriages trying to have another child. She told People Magazine that she was pregnant for five consecutive years and no one knew except her stylist. It was a harrowing time.
She shared that the worst miscarriage occurred when she was four months pregnant and had to host The Golden Globes red carpet for The Insider. She underwent a D&C procedure to clean up her uterus after the miscarriage on a Saturday and hosted The Golden Globes the following day.
Brokenhearted after Miscarriage
That experience changed Matenopoulos. She said after that loss, her heart was broken, but she realized that was “how it was supposed to be.” Although she confessed that she loves babies, she stopped trying to have another and concentrates on Alexandra and her career.
In January 2004, Good Day Live hired Matenopoulos and Arthel Neville to co-host the nationally syndicated program. Matenopoulos was hospitalized in September for an injury she sustained while attempting a stunt on the show. The segment focused on firefighter training.
Blinded During Stunt on Show
As part of the show, she practiced falling from a three-story building at a Los Angeles fire station. She landed incorrectly on an airbag and was rushed to the hospital for a possible head injury. It was a closed-head wound and she was temporarily blinded.
The show was heavily promoted, including a mall tour featuring Matenoploulos and Neville, but it failed to draw viewers. Ratings were low. Little more than a year after its debut, Good Day Live was canceled by its syndicators in March 2005.
Joins E! Gossip Show
In January 2006, Matenopoulos joined E!’s coverage of the Golden Globe Awards. In April of that same year, she became one of the three hosts on E!’s weeknight celebrity gossip and pop culture series, The Daily 10, a position she held until August 2009.
While at E!, Matenopoulos hosted several shows, including Fashion Police, Live from the Red Carpet, and the Style Network’s Instant Beauty Pageant. On July 25, 2006, she was invited back as a special guest co-host of The View for a day, the first of many guest appearances she has made on the show.
Named Co-Host of The Insider
On July 6, 2015, Matenopoulos was named the co-host of The Insider, a position she held until the show’s cancellation on September 9, 2017. Matenopoulos was subsequently named a special correspondent for Entertainment Tonight. Matenopoulos became co-host of Home & Family, replacing Cristina Ferrare.
Home & Family originally premiered on April 1, 1996, on The Family Channel and was dropped by the network immediately before its 1998 relaunch as the Fox Family Channel. In 2012, Hallmark Channel picked up a revival of the series, airing as a two-hour program on weekday mornings.
Show Featured a Revolving Family Cast
The show was originally hosted by Ferrare, Michael Burger, and Chuck Woolery, and featured a stable of personalities known as “the family” who shared tips on beauty, crafts, cooking, and the like. Family members were Jamie Gwen (chef), Candace Garvey (lifestyles), Mayita Dinos (gardening), Bob Golic, and The Carey Brothers (home repairs).
Ferrare’s departure was abrupt, and the audience was not given any explanation or notice before her departure. On June 21, 2016, Hallmark Channel confirmed that Ferrare would no longer co-host, and Matenopoulos was named her replacement
Steines Fired Suddenly from Show
In late May 2018, Steines was fired abruptly from the series. A rep from Hallmark tweeted that they had “parted ways,” and at the end of the following day’s episode, while surrounded by team members, Matenopoulos gave an emotional, vague and praise-filled announcement to the viewing audience of Steines being “no longer with” the series.
No complaints about Steines’ behavior were reported. Hallmark said the show was merely taking a different creative direction. Steines’ contract had not expired, and he was not informed until after he had taped what turned out to be his last show. On July 26, 2018, Cameron Mathison was named Matenopoulos’ new co-host as the seventh season launched.
Pandemic Closes Hallmark Show Down
On July 26, 2019, the series was renewed for an eighth season. The COVID-19 pandemic closed down all Hallmark Channel original content in 2020, and the show was suspended. It returned for a ninth season in September 2020, but production was suspended again in December per recommendations by LA County health officials.
Home & Family reported it would resume production on March 29, with first-run episodes resuming on April 5 in a new one-hour format, airing on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesday mornings. On March 23, Hallmark Channel announced that Home & Family had been canceled, and would air its final episode on August 4, 2021.
Debbie’s Virginia Childhood
Matenopoulos was born in Richmond, Virginia, of Greek ancestry. She is the daughter of Efrosini, a hairstylist, and Nicolaos T. Matenopoulos, a furniture maker. She also has an older sister, Maria, and an older brother, Ike. Her birth name is Thespina Matenopoulos, named after her grandmother. Thespina was later anglicized to Debbie
She attended John Randolph Tucker High School and spent one year at Virginia Commonwealth University before transferring to the journalism department at New York University. While at NYU, she also worked at MTV as an intern. She quickly moved up the ranks, soon becoming story coordinator for UnFiltered.
Marries and Divorces Jay Faires
Matenoploulos keeps her personal life private, except for sharing her devotion to her daughter, Alexandra. She married Jay Faires, the president of Music at Lionsgate Entertainment and founder of Mammoth Records, on July 5, 2003. The pair separated in March 2008 and Faires filed for divorce on November 12, 2008, in Los Angeles County Superior Court, citing “irreconcilable differences.”
Matenopoulos eloped with Jon Falcone in Greece in the summer of 2013. She gave birth to their daughter, Alexandra Kalliope Falcone, on October 29, 2014. Debbie told Deadline in July 2021 that she’s developing two food shows and a lifestyle show.
Access to Popular A-List Celebrities
Matenoploulos’ personality, charisma, and credibility have earned her the trust and respect of many popular celebrities. For example, she was the first person to interview Simon Cowell in his $20 million Beverly Hills estate, even before her mentor, Walters, had the chance.
Matenopoulos has interviewed nearly every Hollywood celebrity while also covering hard-news topics such as the murder trial of Jennifer Hudson’s mother and brother, Whitney Houston’s death, and the trial of James Holmes for the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado. Through her work on The Insider on CBS, Matenopoulos added highlight-worthy interviews to her illustrious career.
Interview Highlights Include Tisch, Talackova
Debbie interviewed Steve Tisch, owner of the New York Giants, on the field right after the Giants won the Super Bowl in 2012. She conducted an exclusive with Donald Trump and his family. She provided an inside look with veteran CBS newsman Barry Peterson regarding the emotional difficulties of covering tragic events such as Rwanda, Afghanistan, and the 9/11 attacks.
She nabbed an exclusive interview with Jenna Talackova, the first transgender Beauty Pageant contestant allowed to compete in the Miss Universe pageant. More recently, she has sat down with Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Dolly Parton, Charlize Theron, Queen Latifah, Sarah Palin, Pamela Anderson, George Clooney, and many others.
Publishes Cookbook of Greek Dishes
Recently, Matenopoulos released her first critically-acclaimed and bestselling cookbook, It’s All Greek To Me. Calling the book her love letter to her family’s native country, Matenopoulos traveled to Greece to write and photograph the book and shares her family’s favorite classic Greek recipes right from their kitchens.
Most recently, Matenopoulos served multiple seasons as co-host of CBS television’s long-running flagship entertainment news show Insider. The show was canceled in September 2017. Matenopoulos was subsequently named a special correspondent for Entertainment Tonight. With the cancelations of Insider and Home and Family, everyone is waiting to see what she will do next.
And The View Rolls On
A bevy of celebrities has filled the seats around the table after Matenopoulos left the show. Behar is the only original host, and she took a few years off from 2013-15. Ling, who replaced Matenopoulos, departed in December 2002 to host the series National Geographic Explorer.
Former Survivor: The Australian Outback castaway Elisabeth Hasselbeck replaced Ling beginning November 24, 2003. After Hasselbeck, television personality Rachel Campos-Duffy, and actress Erin Hershey Presley each received a week-long on-air tryout. Neither stuck it out for the long run.
A Parade of New Hosts
In April 2006, Vieira announced that she was leaving the show to become co-anchor of the Today show. In June, Jones announced her departure on air but stated that she would remain on the show through July. Despite this, Walters stated the following day that Jones would no longer appear.
Walters publicly claimed she felt “betrayed” by Jones for unexpectedly making the announcement two days ahead of schedule. She also said ABC executives had decided not to renew Jones’ contract due to diminished approval for Jones through their market research.
The View Drama Continues
Jones later claimed the decision to leave was not hers and that producers informed her that they would not be renewing her contract in April. During the 33rd Daytime Emmy Awards in April 2006, entertainer Rosie O’Donnell was tapped as the new co-host for the show’s 10th season.
O’Donnell made her debut as the new moderator on September 5. In April 2007, O’Donnell announced she would be leaving the show when her contract expires due to failed renewal negotiations. The following month, ABC stated that O’Donnell had asked to be let out of her contract three weeks before its expiration.
Goldberg Joins the Team
In August 2007, Walters announced that Goldberg would replace O’Donnell as moderator for Season 11. Goldberg debuted during the season premiere on September 4. Actress Sherri Shepherd joined as a permanent co-host beginning September 10. Hasselbeck went on maternity leave from October 2007 to January 2008.
Hasselback took a second maternity leave from August-October 2009, with rotating guest co-hosts filling in. In August 2009, Walters, Behar, Hasselbeck, Goldberg, and Shepherd won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Talk Show Hosts. Walters took a hiatus after undergoing open-heart surgery in May 2010.
More Changes on The View
Walters returned on September 7 during the Season 14 premiere broadcast. In March 2013, Behar announced that she was leaving the series at the end of Season 16. That same month, Hasselbeck was reported to be departing alongside Behar due to market research finding their views too “polarizing.”
Walters denied the rumors and in May, she announced she would retire. Despite Walters’ earlier denial, Hasselbeck announced on July 10 that she was departing to join the Fox News morning program Fox & Friends and that it was her last day on the show.
Revolving Door at The View
Behar’s final episode, a This is Your Life-style tribute to her, aired August 9. Actress Jenny McCarthy became a co-host the following season and debuted September 9. Walters made her final appearance as co-host on May 16, 2014. Shepherd and McCarthy announced their departures the following month and made their final appearances on August 11.
After making guest appearances the previous season, actress Rosie Perez and former White House Communications Director Nicolle Wallace permanently joined the series in its 18th season, establishing Perez as the series’ first Latina co-host. The pair debuted as co-hosts alongside O’Donnell, who permanently returned, and Goldberg, during the season premiere on September 15, 2014.
O’Donnell Exits a Second Time
Perez took a hiatus at the end of the year to rehearse for her role in the play Fish in the Dark and returned on February 3, 2015. That month, representatives for O’Donnell confirmed that she would once again exit the panel due to “personal reasons.” her final appearance aired February 12.
Actress Raven-Symoné joined the series full-time in June after frequently guest co-hosting, and the following month, comedian Michelle Collins, who had also frequently guest co-hosted, was announced as a permanent addition for the following season. Perez and Wallace exited after the 18th season in August.
Behar Returns as View Host
The 19th season saw the return of Behar and the addition of actress Candace Cameron Bure and broadcast journalist Paula Faris as co-hosts along with Goldberg, Raven-Symoné, and Collins. The revolving door continued to rotate as Collins departed in June 2016.
The following season began with eight rotating co-hosts: Behar, Goldberg, Raven-Symoné, Bure, Faris, Haines, lawyer Sunny Hostin, and television personality Jedediah Bila. Behar began moderating on Fridays in Goldberg’s place. On October 27, Raven-Symoné exited from the series to star in a spinoff of the sitcom That’s So Raven.
McCain Signs On
On December 8, Bure announced that she was leaving the program. Goldberg initially considered leaving after season 20 but she remained as moderator for Season 21. Behar, Faris, Haines, Hostin, and Bila all returned as co-hosts. On September 18, 2017, Bila announced her exit from the show on air.
Television personality McCain joined the show after leaving her position at Fox News. She debuted as co-host on October 9. After giving birth to a daughter in December 2017, Haines returned from maternity leave in March 2018. Faris departed in July, and Haines announced her exit the same month.
The View Continues in Season 22
Haines was tapped to co-host ABC’s new third hour of its morning program Good Morning America. She made her final appearance during the season’s penultimate broadcast on August 2. Broadcast journalist Abby Huntsman joined the panel in Season 22, making her debut during the season premiere on September 4, 2018.
McCain returned on October 8 after an extended absence following the death of her father. Navarro joined the show as a weekly guest co-host the following month. Goldberg began a hiatus from co-hosting on February 7, 2019, due to pneumonia and sepsis, and returned on March 14.
McCain Departs, Claiming ‘Toxic’ Atmosphere on Show
After four years on the series, McCain departed at the end of the 24th season. She attributed her decision to her desire to raise her daughter in Washington DC, to which she had relocated. McCain later cited the “toxic, direct and purposeful hostility” she experienced at the show as the reason for her exit.
For the series’ 25th season, which began in September 2021, the co-hosts returned to filming in front of a live studio audience for the first time since March 2020. The show also received a new theme song entitled For My Girls, written by Diane Warren and performed by Brandy Norwood and Nicole Scherzinger.
Standout Moments to Remember
In 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama appeared as a guest on the show during the July 29 broadcast, marking the first appearance on a daytime talk show by a sitting U.S. president. The episode also saw the return of Walters following her open-heart surgery.
On September 5, 2016, before the premiere of Season 20, ABC aired a documentary entitled The View: 20 Years in the Making, which featured notable moments from the show and several personalities involved in its history, hosted by Behar.
COVID-19 Makes Its Appearance on The View
On September 24, 2021, Hostin and Navarro were removed from the show mid-broadcast due to testing positive for COVID-19 before a planned in-person interview with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris. The rest of the episode saw Behar and Haines answering audience questions.
Harris appeared on the broadcast from a separate room in the building via video stream during the last 10 minutes. Hostin and Navarro returned the following week and said further testing indicated the two had received false-positive results. In September 2021, the series launched a podcast titled Behind the Table, which features conversations between current and former co-hosts.