Barbara Walters, a groundbreaking TV reporter and the first woman to host an evening news show, has died at the age of 93.
Disney CEO Robert Iger said Walters died Friday at his home in New York. chirp Friday night.
“Barbara was a true legend, a pioneer not only for women in journalism, but for journalism itself,” Iger said in a statement. “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.”
Journalist Cindi Berger said in a statement, “Barbara Walters died peacefully in her home surrounded by her loved ones. She lived her life without regret. She was a pioneer not just for female journalists but for all women.”
His death was also announced late Friday by ABC, the network he’s worked with for nearly four decades. His interviews with elected officials, heads of state, and Hollywood entertainers also earned Walters celebrity status. He was known for hosting NBC’s Today and ABC’s 20/20 news programs, as well as frequent specials such as the annual 10 Most Fascinating People program.
Walters began her TV broadcasting career in 1961 as a researcher and writer on NBC’s Today, and became a co-host in 1974. She made headlines when she moved to ABC in 1976, where she was named the first female network newscaster. Her five-year contract paid her an unprecedented $1 million salary.
He was famous for asking personal, in-depth questions to his guests, who were often moved and began to cry in front of the camera. Throughout his storied career, he has interviewed every incumbent US president from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama, heads of state such as Cuban President Fidel Castro, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the Shah of Iran, as well as entertainers. Like Lucille Ball, Grace Kelly, and John Wayne — her last TV interview before she died three months later.
He was also known for his lisp, a speech impediment that cemented his position as a cultural icon when he was parodied as Baba Wawa by the late comedian Gilda Radner in the famous Saturday Night Live skit in the 1970s.
Walters retired in 2014 from The View, a morning TV talk show he created in 1997, ending a 53-year career as a broadcast journalism that won him 12 Emmys.