Longtime news broadcaster, journalist, anchor, and television host, Barbara Walters, has died. The news and TV icon, who had a career spanning over 50 years, was 93 years old. ABC News first reported the announcement of her passing on Friday, December 30.
The award-winning broadcast journalist and news anchor was born Barbara Jill Walters in 1929 in Boston, Massachusetts. She is best known for her work on ABC’s “20/20” and creator and original co-host of “The View.”
The Trailblazing Legacy Of Barbara Walters
Walters joined ABC News in 1976. Eventually, Walters became the first female anchor for an evening news program in history. Three years after joining ABC News, she became a co-host on ABC’s “20/20.” In 1997, she created and launched “The View” on ABC, serving as one of the show’s original panelists.
Throughout her epic career, Walters won 12 Emmy Awards, 11 of which while at ABC News. Recently returned Disney CEO Bob Iger, who also got his start at ABC, issued a statement to ABC News following the announcement of Walters’ passing. He stated the following:
“Barbara was a true legend, a pioneer not just for women in journalism but for journalism itself. She was a one-of-a-kind reporter who landed many of the most important interviews of our time, from heads of state to the biggest celebrities and sports icons. I had the pleasure of calling Barbara a colleague for more than three decades, but more importantly, I was able to call her a dear friend. She will be missed by all of us at The Walt Disney Company, and we send our deepest condolences to her daughter, Jacqueline.”
Walters exited “The View” in 2014, but she stayed on board as an executive producer of the show, and she continued to do interviews and specials for ABC over the years.
Walters’ parents were Dena and Louis “Lou” Walters. Her father worked in the entertainment world as a booking agent and nightclub producer, discovering such comedic talents as Fred Allen and Jack Haley. Seeing show business behind the scenes from a younger age helped her recognize that talents and performers, while they were special people, were also human beings with real-life problems.
After she graded from the Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, Walters got her start as a publicist and television writer before working her way onto NBC’s “Today” in 1961. She later became the the first female co-host of “Today” in 1974. In 1975, she won her first Daytime Emmy Award as Outstanding host or Host in a Talk, Sevice, or Variety Series for her work on “Today.”
In Walters’ 2008 book, “Audition,” she revealed that her older sister, Jacqueline, who was born developmentally disabled was what helped instill in her a significant drive to succeed
In her 2008 memoir “Audition,” Walters revealed that she got her ambition to succeed from her older sister, Jacqueline, who was born developmentally disabled. She would later name her adopted daughter Jacqueline Guber with her second husband, Lee Guber, after her sister.
Walters interviewed many prolific figures throughout her career, including presidents and heads of state. Some of her blockbuster interviews included Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin, Margaret Thatcher, Fidel Castro, Michael Jackson, Laurence Olivier, Katherine Hepburn, Monica Lewinski, and Anwar Sadat. Walters interviewed every United States president and first lady from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama. She also interviewed former President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump before they entered the White House.
For some of Walters’ lighter and more entertainment-based interviews, she also hosted an annual Oscars special, where she would interview Academy Award nominees. She even once interviewed the DreamWorks Animation character Shrek, in character, voiced by Mike Meyers.
ABC News renamed part of ABC News HQ in New York “The Barbara Walters Building” in 2014. In 1989, She was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. The late news anchor Peter Jennings presented her with the award at the time.
Walters leaves behind an incredible, indelible legacy. During the 2014 ceremony, when ABC News commemorated her by renaming part of the headquarters “The Barbara Walters Building” she stated the following:
“People ask me very often, ‘what is your legacy?’ and it’s not the interviews with presidents, or heads of state, nor celebrities. If I have a legacy, and I’ve said this before and I mean it so sincerely, I hope that I played a small role in paving the way for so many of you fabulous women.”