Since the popular TV show “The View” first premiered in 1997, it’s been a revolving door of co-hosts, but viewers still remember the original five: Barbara Walters, Joy Behar, Star Jones, Meredith Vieira and Debbie Matenopoulos.
Matenopoulos, often criticized and parodied for her 22-year-old point of view in the midst of giants like Barbara Walters, was fired after two years. “Oprah: Where Are They Now?” caught up with Matenopoulos during a visit to Greece when she was there working on her cookbook of traditional family recipes, It’s All Greek to Me, and reflected on her co-hosting days.
“It has been 16 years since I was on ‘The View,’ — 15 or 16 but who’s counting,” she says in the interview. “That was the most amazing experience of my life to date and still the most amazing job. At that time I probably didn’t realize what a big deal it was because I was so young.”
“Did I say and do some crazy things? Yeah, I look back at that girl and I say, ‘You poor thing.’ I mean that poor, poor thing,” she laughs. “It was difficult to read stuff about myself that’s for sure, in the press, and to hear things about myself and — oh my gosh, the press could be brutal. Brutal.”
Matenopoulos says it was her tight-knit Greek family that helped her get through the criticism. “I think probably the only reason I continued in this business after kind of being kicked around so much, so young, was because of my father’s encouragement and his strength,” she says.
In 2012 Matenopoulos lost her father to ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. “ALS strips you of your movements, of your speech, of everything except your brain. So you are completely intact mentally, but at the end, basically you cannot move and it is awful.” In honor of her father and to raise awareness to help find a cure for ALS, Matenopoulos says she is dedicating some of the proceeds of the book to the ALS. Association.