Rosie O'Donnell Explains Why She's Leaving 'The View'

Rosie O'Donnell on the red carpet ahead of Saturday night's Athena Film Festival awards ceremony
Courtesy of Frank PR

She says that doctors were worried about her stress levels since she rejoined the show in the fall.

Rosie O'Donnell says that co-hosting The View was actually harmful to her health.

O'Donnell attended the Athena Film Festival awards ceremony on Saturday in New York, where she told reporters that doctors were concerned about stress from the show causing strain on her heart. She pointed out that the stress was worsened by having to dealing with trouble in her marriage to wife Michelle Rounds, not to mention the regular pressures of raising four teenage children.

"[My health] got a little bit worse right before the holidays — [my doctor] was kind of concerned," said O'Donnell, whose second stint on The View, which began in fall of 2014, will end next week. "I can't really fix [my personal life] right away, but I can fix [my job]."

"So I spoke to them at ABC, and I told them, and they understood," she said. "They've been unbelievably supportive and loving."

O'Donnell, who is known to have a frosty relationship with co-host Whoopi Goldberg, said she has spoken to Goldberg and the other View panelists Rosie Perez and Nicolle Wallace since the news of her departure was announced. Each of the three women was supportive of her decision, O'Donnell added.

"Everyone cares about each other — nobody wants to do anything that's going to affect someone's health, so they get it. It's OK" O'Donnell said about her co-hosts. "Not everything works out as you planned, but you never know what's going to happen tomorrow."

The TV personality also talked about the fact that she and Rounds decided to be open with the media this week about their relationship after news broke that they are living apart. O'Donnell cited NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams' situation as a sign that people need to be honest. Williams is currently in hot water after apologizing for a story he told about a 2003 helicopter ride in Iraq.

"All you have to do is go on Instagram," explained O'Donnell, who said she and Rounds are trying to figure things out. "You can see she's not in the house with me. It's been since Thanksgiving. People are not idiots. I don't want to lie in front of people. And I also needed some time, both of us, to figure it out. We're separated; we're not living together, and, like most married couples I know, we're trying to figure it out. And I love her very much and she loves me."

Earlier O'Donnell spoke at a panel discussion about women's heart disease following the festival premiere of her upcoming HBO documentary Rosie O'Donnell: A Heartfelt Stand Up.

There she also joked about the Brian Williams scandal and her marriage.

O'Donnell said they ran the doc, which features O'Donnell in a hybrid form of stand-up about her recent heart attack and sharing her experience with heart disease, past several doctors, to check that everything she said was accurate.

"'Cause you know sometimes like Brian Williams I can't remember," she joked. "No, really, I, you know. Come on. I was in a helicopter that got hit by an RPG. I forgot I wasn't in it. I wrote and directed A League of Their Own. Wait a minute, I was just in it. Shit, I forgot."

She continued: "Remember when Walter Cronkite was the most trusted man in the world. He took off his glasses and said this war is wrong and the Vietnam War ended a few months later? And now we've got Brian f—ing Williams saying I discovered electricity. Maybe this will distract from my divorce."

Later Saturday night, O'Donnell also presented an award to HBO Documentary Films president Sheila Nevins, joking both during the panel and during the awards ceremony that the executive is going to screen all of her future dates.

Also during the awards ceremony, O'Donnell joked that she may have found her next spouse.

At the beginning of her remarks, she addressed part of the audience, saying of one woman, "I don't know who you are with the gray hat, but I saw you walking by and I was like, 'I don't know who she is but I feel like she might be my next wife.' I don't know. I just had a feeling. I'm not saying you have to feel that way back. But I did see you walking and I thought we had a moment. Was it only me?"

She then segued into a joke about Brian Williams: "Maybe this is what's the problem in my relationships. I see someone and I make shit up like Brian Williams...I escaped on 9/11 from the Twin Towers. No, I didn't; I got mixed up. F—ing Lance Armstrong liar."

O'Donnell later asked Nevins to speak to the woman in the gray hat to see if she's "feeling anything at all."

Sarah Gray also contributed to this report.

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