Breakthrough TV icon Barbara Walters dies at 93

Groundbreaking television news broadcaster and longtime ABC News anchor and reporter who broke the glass ceiling and became a dominant force in a once-male industry has died. She was 93 years old.

Walters joined ABC News in 1976 and became the first female announcer on an evening news show. Three years later she became one of the hosts of “20/20” and in 1997 she released “The View”.

Bob Iger, CEO of ABC News’ parent company The Walt Disney Company, praised Walters as a barrier-breaker.

Barbara was a true legend, a pioneer not only for women in journalism, but for journalism itself. He was a one-of-a-kind reporter who did many of the most important interviews of our time, from heads of state to the biggest celebrities and sports icons. I’ve enjoyed calling Barbara my colleague for over thirty years, but more importantly, I’ve been able to call her a dear friend. “We will all miss her at The Walt Disney Company and send our deepest condolences to her daughter, Jacqueline,” Iger said on Friday.

In a career spanning fifty years, Walters has won 12 Emmys, including 11 for ABC News.

He made his last appearance as co-host of “The View” in 2014, but remained executive producer of the show and continued to do some interviews and specials for ABC News.

“I don’t want to appear on another show or climb another mountain,” he said at the time. “Instead, I want to sit in a sunny field and admire the very talented women – and okay, some men – who will take my place.”

Barbara Jill Walters was born on September 25, 1929, in Boston, the son of Dena and Louis “Lou” Walters. His father worked as a booking agent and nightclub producer in show business, and he discovered comedians Fred Allen and Jack Haley who would star as the Tin Man in the classic movie “The Wizard of Oz.”

Growing up among celebrities taught young Barbara a lesson she’s trusted throughout her career.

“I would see them differently on stage and very different offstage. I would hear my family talk about them and I knew that although these actors were very private people, they were also people who had problems in real life,” Walters said. In an interview with the Television Academy of Arts in 1989 & Sciences. “I can respect and admire famous people, but I have never felt fear or admiration.”

In her 2008 memoir “Audition,” Walters revealed that she got her ambition to succeed from her older sister, Jacqueline, who was born with a disability.

“His condition also changed my life,” Walters wrote. “I think I knew from a very early age that Jackie would become my responsibility at some point. This awareness was one of the main reasons that drove me to work so hard. But my feelings went beyond financial responsibility.

Broadcast reporter Barbara Walters looks at film negatives with an unidentified man behind the scenes at NBC Studios in New York, circa 1966.

Rowland Scherman/Getty Images

“Most of my need to prove myself, to achieve, to provide, to protect myself stems from my feelings about Jackie.” Some might call it ambition. I can live with that. Some might call it insecurity, but while that’s such a boring, common label, being called shy means little. But looking back, it seems to me that life is one long choice — an attempt to make a difference and be accepted.”

After graduating from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York in the 1950s, Walters found work as a publicist and television writer before landing as a writer on NBC’s “Today” in 1961. The -host won its first Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show Host in 1974 and the following year.

PHOTO: Today Show host Barbara Walters describes the Democratic National Convention in 1972.

Today Show host Barbara Walters describes the Democratic National Convention in 1972.

NBCUniversal via Getty Images

“No one was more surprised than me,” he said of his on-air career. “I wasn’t pretty like many of the women on the show before me. [and] I had a hard time pronouncing the r’s.”

Walters wrote in her memoirs that she had dark hair, a pale complexion, and was often said to be skinny. She said her parents’ expression of love for her was “Skinnymalinkydin”.

In 1976, Walters found a new home on ABC’s “Evening News” and made history as the first female host of an evening news show.

PHOTO: Barbara Walters and Harry Reasoner on the set of ABC News, September 30, 1976.

Barbara Walters and Harry Reasoner on the set of ABC News, September 30, 1976.

ABC News

Walters had an exclusive interview with Earl Butz, who resigned as President Gerald Ford’s Secretary of Agriculture after it was revealed that he had told a racist joke in his inaugural broadcast with co-host Harry Reasoner on October 4, 1976. He also did a satellite interview with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat about his country’s plans to end its war with Lebanon.

His interviews at ABC were extensive and his reach to public figures was unmatched; Walters crossed the Bay of Pigs with Fidel Castro to conduct the first joint interview with Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. He also gained a reputation for asking tough questions.

“I asked Vladimir Putin if he had ordered anyone to be killed,” he recalled once. “She said ‘no’ for the record.”

Upon Castro’s death in 2016, Walters issued a statement saying he called the two interviews the dictator had with him “heated discussions”.

PHOTO: Barbara Walters interviewed Cuban President Fidel Castro as he crossed the Bay of Pigs on an ABC News Special that aired on the ABC Television Network on June 9, 1977.

Barbara Walters interviewed Cuban President Fidel Castro as he crossed the Bay of Pigs in an ABC News Special that aired on the ABC Television Network on June 9, 1977.

ABC Photo Archives

“During our time together, he made it clear to me that he was an absolute dictator and a staunch opponent of democracy,” Walters said in a statement. “I told him what we most deeply disagreed with was the meaning of freedom.”

There were also lighter interviews. For years, he hosted an annual Oscar special, where he interviewed Academy Award nominees, and many were known for revealing their deep personal information and even crying. In 1994, he launched the “Most Fascinating People” special, which airs every December, giving him the opportunity to chat with the best news reporters of the year.

In 1999, an estimated 74 million viewers watched to watch Walters’ interview with Monica Lewinsky about the former White House intern’s relationship with then-President Bill Clinton. Towards the end of the interview, Walters asked Lewinsky, “When you have your kids, what will you tell them?” “My mom made a big mistake,” Lewinsky replied, and Walters replied, “And that’s the understatement of the year.”

PHOTO: Barbara Walters interviews former President Ronald Reagan for ABC News

Barbara Walters interviews former President Ronald Reagan for ABC News’ “20/20” on the Santa Barbara Ranch in 1981.

ABC Photo Archives

Walters has also interviewed every US president and First Lady, from the Nixons to the Obamas. She interviewed President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump before entering the White House.

With “The View”, she created a forum for women from different backgrounds and opinions to come together and discuss the latest news in the news; this is a format that has since been widely emulated by other networks. The May 2019 New York Times Magazine cover story named “The View” as “the most important political TV show in America.”

PHOTO: Original hosts

The original presenters of “The View” are seen here from the left, Star Jones, Joy Behar, Meredith Vieira, Debbie Matenopoulos, and Barbara Walters.

Andrew Eccles/ABC

Walters has been married four times to three different men (twice to Merv Adelson, a television producer and real estate developer) and adopted her second husband, Lee Guber, a theater producer and owner, and daughter Jacqueline Guber. She named her daughter after her sister and wrote in her memoirs that “she wanted Jackie to feel like she had a child too, because until then I knew she would never be.”

“It keeps me sane, it keeps me grounded,” Walters said of her daughter. “Children do that… I think a lot of working women struggle with their job and being at home, and there’s never a right answer. Whatever you do is wrong, but whatever you do it will eventually get better.”

PHOTO: Barbara Walters photographed with daughter Jackie Danforth on April 18, 2008.

Barbara Walters was photographed with her daughter, Jackie Danforth, on April 18, 2008.

Donna Svennevik/Walt Disney Television

He was honored with a wax portrait of his likeness at Madame Tussauds in New York in 2001 and was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007.

He also received honorary doctorate degrees from Ohio State University, Temple University, Marymount College, Wheaton College, Hofstra University, and Ben-Gurion University in Jerusalem, as well as from Sarah Lawrence College, from which he graduated.

After 25 years in television, he was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1989 and was presented with the award by Peter Jennings, then editor and presenter of ABC’s “World News Tonight”.

PHOTO: Television announcers Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters arrive at the Television Hall of Fame in Century City, California, January 7, 1990.

Television presenters Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters arrived at the Television Hall of Fame in Century City, California, on January 7, 1990.

Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images

“In all of Barbara’s years following the world, those of us who followed in her footsteps did better because she set the initial standards and taught us all,” said Jennings, who died in 2005. she said at the moment.

In 2000, Oprah Winfrey echoed Jennings’ speech when presenting Walters with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. “Without Barbara Walters, absolutely all the other women who followed in her footsteps, including myself, wouldn’t have been able to stay where we are and do what we do in this industry today,” Winfrey said.

“I’ve been blessed with a life I never expected, and hundreds of people have helped me up the stairs over the years,” Walters said in her acceptance speech.

PHOTO: Disney and ABC Television executives and ABC News anchors join Barbara Walters at the dedication ceremony as ABC News headquarters announce The Barbara Walters Building in New York City on May 12, 2014.

Bob Iger, president and CEO of The Walt Disney Company; Anne Sweeney, Co-President of Disney Media Networks and President of Disney/ABC Television Group; ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer; Barbara Walters; ABC News presenter David Muir, “Good Morning America” ​​presenter Robin Roberts, and ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos attend the dedication ceremony as the Barbara Walters Building of ABC News headquarters in New York City was announced on May 12, 2014.

Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

Part of ABC News’ New York Headquarters was renamed the “Barbara Walters Building” in May 2014. During the ceremony, Walters said, “People often ask me, ‘What is your legacy?’ It’s not interviews with presidents, heads of state, or celebrities. If I have a legacy, which I’ve said before, and I mean it so sincerely, I hope I’ve played a small part in paving the way for that. Many of you are amazing women.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *