Who Replaced Joan Lunden on ‘Good Morning America’? See Where the TV Host Is Now

For nearly two decades, Joan Lunden was the face of Good Morning America, leading the broadcast during historic events and reporting from locations all over the world. In 1997, she left the program, shocking longtime viewers with her unexpected departure. Keep scrolling to find out what happened to Joan and see who replaced her on the series. 

What Happened to Joan Lunden? 

Joan became an official cohost of Good Morning America in 1980 alongside news veteran David Hartman. The Nobody’s Perfect actor left the series in 1987, leaving the door wide open for a new cohost to join Joan on the broadcast. ABC News correspondent CharlesCharlie” Gibson filled the role and helped viewership skyrocket with his new costar. 

"That time of morning is very different than any other time of the day when it comes to television. It's a very intimate time of day,” Joan reflected on her career as a daytime talk show host during a December 2022 interview with Yahoo! Life. “People aren't dressed. Kids are running around. And here we were in their house with them. So, the relationship that ensued was almost familial … To this day, people will come up to me sometimes and, like, throw their arms around me … and sometimes they'll say, 'I love you in the morning!' I haven't been on that show for 20 years.”

Joan Lunden ‘GMA’ Departure: Why She Left, Where She Is Now
Joan Lunden ‘GMA’ Departure: Why She Left, Where She Is Now

While Joan and Charlie became one of America’s favorite onscreen duos, she bid farewell to the program in September 1997.

“After 20 years of waking up America with a smile, and having been given incredible opportunities on Good Morning America, I have asked the executives of ABC to give me a chance to do something I’ve never done — wake up my own children with a smile, while they’re still children,” she said in a press release at the time. 

The Wake-Up Calls author, who is a mom to a blended family of seven kids, was replaced by Lisa McRee on GMA shortly after. Charlie anchored the broadcast until 1998 before he was replaced by Kevin Newman. Less than a year after his departure, he returned to help usher in a new era of broadcasting at GMA with Diane Sawyer. The World News host retired from reporting in 2009 and still maintains a close friendship with Joan. 

Where Is Joan Lunden Now?

Years after Joan left GMA, she candidly spoke out on the real reason behind her sudden departure from the series. 

"The executives made a decision that younger was better; they replaced me and Charlie Gibson with 30-something versions of ourselves," she told Parade in July 2013. "I agreed to say I was going on to do other things, and then I did them. I think they lost about 4 million viewers in a week. It was a calculated risk, and it didn't work."

She openly revealed a conversation she had with network executives after learning her time on the series was coming to an end. 

"I didn't talk about it for a long, long time. I believe in going out with class … as opposed to getting angry, like, what's the point?” the journalist explained. “I picked up the phone and I called the president of the network and I said, 'I'm about to do you a very big favor.' I said, 'A year ago, NBC let Jane Pauley go and brought in Deborah Norville, and the audience was so upset with them because it was so obvious that you pushed out a woman, as she was getting older, to bring in this younger woman. Like, did you guys not learn anything?'"

Following her GMA departure, Joan served as the host of the A&E series Behind Closed Doors and worked as a special correspondent on Today. The Gracie Award winner has continued her advocacy for breast cancer research after she was diagnosed with the disease in 2014. 

“People always used to say to me, ‘You go into cancer treatment one person, and you come out another,’” Joan, now cancer-free, shared during a November 2020 interview with Closer. “You come out so appreciative of every day, and of life and of the people who helped you through. I think it’s just human nature that when you battle a life-threatening disease, and you get to the other side, that you have this desire to reach out and help the next person through.”