The Real Story Behind Joan Lunden's Good Morning America Departure

Season 5 Episode 516
CC | tv-14
For more than 15 years, Joan Lunden was a mainstay in American living rooms. Alongside her Good Morning America co-anchor Charlie Gibson, Joan helped make ABC's show the top rated in the morning lineup for a good part of the '90s. Then, in 1997, when the show's ratings began to stumble, Joan announced her departure. She was replaced by the younger Lisa McRee.

At the time, Joan told the press that she was leaving the show to spend time with her children. In reality, however, ABC executives were running the show, and they had their own agenda.

Joan, who was 46 at the time, points out that while they never used the exact words, they were asking her to move on because of her age. "The words are, 'We've decided to make a change on the show,' and so they found a 30-year-old version of me," Joan says.

Her co-anchor, Charlie Gibson, was affected as well. "By the way, it was not just me," Joan says. "It was Charlie and me. They replaced both of us with kind of, you know, a 30-year-old version of each of us, and it didn't work."

Watch as Joan reveals the true story behind her departure from the show.