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Barbara Walters has died at 93


Barbara Walters, pictured in 1999 on the set of one of the many shows she co-hosted, 20/20, broke barriers for women in TV news

Barbara Walters, pictured in 1999 on the set of one of the many shows she co-hosted, 20/20, broke barriers for women in TV news

Legendary TV journalist Barbara Walters has died at the age of 93.

The intrepid interviewer, anchor and program host who blazed the way as the first woman to become a TV news superstar died peacefully at her New York home.

‘She lived her life with no regrets. She was a trailblazer not only for female journalists, but for all women,’ her publicist Cindi Berger said in a statement. 

Walters made headlines in 1976 as the first female network news anchor, with an unprecedented $1 million annual salary. 

Her last on-air interview was with then presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2015. The TV legend was rarely seen in public in recent years. 

Bob Iger, the CEO of The Walt Disney Company which is the parent company of ABC News, called Walters ‘a true legend.’

‘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,’ Iger said in a statement Friday. 

Walters’ cause of death was not immediately released. 

In her more than 50 years on television, she interviewed everyone from heads of state to Hollywood glitterati and along the way turned into an icon herself, becoming the first woman to co-anchor a nightly news program and co-host many others, winning awards, writing two books, and creating The View.

In her more than 50 years on television, she interviewed everyone from heads of state to Hollywood glitterati and along the way turned into an icon herself

In her more than 50 years on television, she interviewed everyone from heads of state to Hollywood glitterati and along the way turned into an icon herself

Her last on-air interview was with then presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2015

Her last on-air interview was with then presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2015

Bob Iger, the CEO of The Walt Disney Company which is the parent company of ABC News, called Walters 'a true legend' when he tweeted about her death on Friday

Bob Iger, the CEO of The Walt Disney Company which is the parent company of ABC News, called Walters ‘a true legend’ when he tweeted about her death on Friday

Throughout her trailblazing, decades-spanning career, Walters went from a ‘Today Girl’ in the 1960s when women didn’t cover hard news to the morning show’s first female co-host in 1974, for which she would win her first Daytime Emmy the next year. 

In 1976, she was the first woman to co-anchor ABC Evening News, would go on to co-host 20/20, and by 1997, create and co-host The View, a successful daytime talk show that has been on the air for over 20 years. She officially retired in 2014. 

Walters was known for her work ethic whose roots trace back to a childhood spent in various cities. Her father, Lou Walters, ran the popular club chain Latin Quarter, which was frequented by the likes of Roy Cohn and Joseph P Kennedy Sr. He also worked in show business, which lead to a financial highs and lows for the family. Walters’ older sister, Jacqueline, had an intellectual disability, and Walters spent much of her adulthood providing financial support for them.

Married three times and divorced, Walters is survived by her daughter, Jacqueline Danforth.

‘I don’t think I was very good at marriage. It may be that my career was just too important,’ Walters said during an ABC News interview in May 2014 before her retirement.

Walters landed the interviews everyone else wanted, including Monica Lewinsky in 1999. She took world leaders and dictators to task with hard-hitting questions, and interviewed every US President from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama.

‘I’m different on camera,’ Walters told Vogue in a 2008 article. ‘I have guts; I have no doubts; I have no fear when I’m working.’ 

Barbara Jill Walters was born on September 25, 1929 in Boston. Her father, Lou Walters, was 15 when he left London for New York City. Walters later described him as 'brilliant' and a 'gambler' while her mother, Dena, was conservative and liked to stay home. Lou Walters ran the Latin Quarter, a successful club chain that at one point had locations in Boston, Miami Beach - frequented by the likes of Roy Cohn and Joseph P Kennedy Sr - and New York City. Above, Barbara Walters at her desk at NBC circa 1964

Barbara Jill Walters was born on September 25, 1929 in Boston. Her father, Lou Walters, was 15 when he left London for New York City. Walters later described him as ‘brilliant’ and a ‘gambler’ while her mother, Dena, was conservative and liked to stay home. Lou Walters ran the Latin Quarter, a successful club chain that at one point had locations in Boston, Miami Beach – frequented by the likes of Roy Cohn and Joseph P Kennedy Sr – and New York City. Above, Barbara Walters at her desk at NBC circa 1964

Her parents met in Boston in 1919, and were married for nearly 60 years. Lou Walters was doing financially well when the couple met but by the time Walters was born, he had 'lost his first fortune,' she wrote in her 2008 memoir, Audition. 'The financial roller coaster of his business life would have an enormous impact on me. Throughout my life my father made and lost several fortunes in show business.' Walters' older sister, Jacqueline, had an intellectual disability, and she spent much of her adulthood providing financial support for them. Above, Gene Shalit, Walters and Frank McGee in a promotional photo for Today in January 1973

Her parents met in Boston in 1919, and were married for nearly 60 years. Lou Walters was doing financially well when the couple met but by the time Walters was born, he had ‘lost his first fortune,’ she wrote in her 2008 memoir, Audition. ‘The financial roller coaster of his business life would have an enormous impact on me. Throughout my life my father made and lost several fortunes in show business.’ Walters’ older sister, Jacqueline, had an intellectual disability, and she spent much of her adulthood providing financial support for them. Above, Gene Shalit, Walters and Frank McGee in a promotional photo for Today in January 1973

During Walters' childhood, her family moved around and lived in Boston, Miami and New York City, where at one point, they had a 'magnificent penthouse on Central Park West,' according to her autobiography. Growing up, Walters spent a lot of time at her father's clubs, watching the shows and memorizing the routines. While attending Sarah Lawrence College, she considered dropping out to pursue acting, but stayed in school, graduating in 1951 with a degree in English. Above, Walters interviews Cuban leader Fidel Castro at a news conference on May 7, 1975

During Walters’ childhood, her family moved around and lived in Boston, Miami and New York City, where at one point, they had a ‘magnificent penthouse on Central Park West,’ according to her autobiography. Growing up, Walters spent a lot of time at her father’s clubs, watching the shows and memorizing the routines. While attending Sarah Lawrence College, she considered dropping out to pursue acting, but stayed in school, graduating in 1951 with a degree in English. Above, Walters interviews Cuban leader Fidel Castro at a news conference on May 7, 1975

In 1951, after graduating, Walters got a job at a CBS affiliate's publicity department. Not long after, she met Roy Cohn, who was a regular at her father's Palm Island Latin Quarter, and her first husband, Robert Henry Katz, in Florida. Walters, who was by then in her early twenties, started dating Katz, whose father ran a company that manufactured children hats. They eventually got engaged and then married in June 1955. 'The truth is, no matter whom I married in those days, it wouldn't have worked out,' Walters wrote. Above, Walters on the Today set on May 5, 1976

In 1951, after graduating, Walters got a job at a CBS affiliate’s publicity department. Not long after, she met Roy Cohn, who was a regular at her father’s Palm Island Latin Quarter, and her first husband, Robert Henry Katz, in Florida. Walters, who was by then in her early twenties, started dating Katz, whose father ran a company that manufactured children hats. They eventually got engaged and then married in June 1955. ‘The truth is, no matter whom I married in those days, it wouldn’t have worked out,’ Walters wrote. Above, Walters on the Today set on May 5, 1976

After a stint in public relations and at the magazine Redbook, Walters was offered a temporary opportunity to write for the Today show in 1961, and she jumped at the chance. 'I realized I was giving up a steady job for something that was short-termed, but I loved working in television ¿ the creativity, the interesting people, the whole atmosphere,' she recalled in her memoir, Audition. The schedule for Today was not easy, with Walters calling the 4:30am start time at the studio 'grueling.' Above, Walters, right in hat, at a Paris fashion show in 1973

After a stint in public relations and at the magazine Redbook, Walters was offered a temporary opportunity to write for the Today show in 1961, and she jumped at the chance. ‘I realized I was giving up a steady job for something that was short-termed, but I loved working in television – the creativity, the interesting people, the whole atmosphere,’ she recalled in her memoir, Audition. The schedule for Today was not easy, with Walters calling the 4:30am start time at the studio ‘grueling.’ Above, Walters, right in hat, at a Paris fashion show in 1973

After the one female writer on the Today staff left to get married, Walters took her place. Technically Walters had first appeared on camera, in a bathing suit, on The Morning Show on CBS in 1955. However, her debut at the Today desk was on August 29, 1961 when she was sent to Paris to cover fashion week. Above, Harry Reasoner, left, and Walters, right, in a 1976 ABC News photo. Reasoner and Walters co-hosted ABC Evening News, but they did not have a good working relationship, according to her memoir

After the one female writer on the Today staff left to get married, Walters took her place. Technically Walters had first appeared on camera, in a bathing suit, on The Morning Show on CBS in 1955. However, her debut at the Today desk was on August 29, 1961 when she was sent to Paris to cover fashion week. Above, Harry Reasoner, left, and Walters, right, in a 1976 ABC News photo. Reasoner and Walters co-hosted ABC Evening News, but they did not have a good working relationship, according to her memoir 

Walters was a 'Today Girl,' then a reporter, and in 1974, was made co-host. 'A very satisfying title after ten years of sitting beside the male host on the morning desk at Today. Ten years. Seems small by today's standards, but in 1974 a breakthrough,' she wrote in her 2008 memoir, Audition. Above, Walters when she was co-host of Today in an undated photo

Walters was a ‘Today Girl,’ then a reporter, and in 1974, was made co-host. ‘A very satisfying title after ten years of sitting beside the male host on the morning desk at Today. Ten years. Seems small by today’s standards, but in 1974 a breakthrough,’ she wrote in her 2008 memoir, Audition. Above, Walters when she was co-host of Today in an undated photo

Walters was also known for her celebrity interviews with stars like Oprah Winfrey, Bradley Cooper, Cher, Michael Jackson and Katharine Hepburn. Video clips show her weightlifting with Arnold Schwarzenegger, playing pool with Eddie Murphy, and fishing with Sandra Bullock. Her in-depth interviews for the Barbara Walters Special started airing in 1976, and by 1993, she would be talking to the ’10 Most Fascinating People’ that year. 

‘I was one of the first who did political interviews and celebrities,’ Walters told Vanity Fair in 2014. ‘And I was criticized for it, and now everybody does it. Now, on the morning shows, the first half-hour is news, and the second half-hour they’re making souffles, or interviewing a movie star. But when I was doing that, that was unusual.’

Barbara Jill Walters was born on September 25, 1929 in Boston. Her father, Lou, was 15 when he left London for New York City. Walters described him in the May 2014 interview as ‘brilliant’ and a ‘gambler,’ while her mother, Dena, was conservative and liked to stay home.

Lou Walters was a booking agent turned supper club impresario: he ran the Latin Quarter, a club chain that had locations in Boston, Miami Beach and New York City. (Where the club was once located at Broadway and 48th Street was named ‘Lou Walters Way’ in 2006, according to Walter’s 2008 memoir, Audition.)

Her parents met in Boston in 1919, and were married for nearly 60 years, with Walters noting in her ABC News interview: ‘In those days, people didn’t get divorced.’

Lou was doing financially well when the couple met but by the time Walters was born, he had ‘lost his first fortune,’ she wrote in Audition. ‘The financial roller coaster of his business life would have an enormous impact on me. Throughout my life my father made and lost several fortunes in show business.’

Her family, including her older sister Jacqueline, moved around a lot, living in Boston, Miami, and New York City, where at one point, they had a ‘magnificent penthouse on Central Park West,’ according to her memoir. Growing up, Walters spent a lot of time at her father’s clubs, watching the shows and memorizing the routines. While attending Sarah Lawrence College, she considered dropping out to pursue acting.

‘As for me, I was becoming more and more absorbed in my desire to be an actress,’ she recalled in her book. 

Walters' first marriage to Robert Henry Katz, who worked for his father who manufactured children hats, lasted about three years after tying the knot in June 1955. Walters wrote in her 2008 memoir, Audition, that during the marriage she was 'quite miserable.' She called Katz a 'decent man, but it became clearer every day that we had nothing in common.' In 1962, she met her second husband, Lee Guber, a theatrical producer, on a blind date. Walters really liked the divorced father of two except for one thing: his profession. Above, Walters and Lee Guber at their home in New York City in 1966

Walters’ first marriage to Robert Henry Katz, who worked for his father who manufactured children hats, lasted about three years after tying the knot in June 1955. Walters wrote in her 2008 memoir, Audition, that during the marriage she was ‘quite miserable.’ She called Katz a ‘decent man, but it became clearer every day that we had nothing in common.’ In 1962, she met her second husband, Lee Guber, a theatrical producer, on a blind date. Walters really liked the divorced father of two except for one thing: his profession. Above, Walters and Lee Guber at their home in New York City in 1966

By the summer of 1963, Walter and Lee Guber were engaged, but 'all the old terrors about marriage returned, but this time I was determined to overcome them,' she wrote. She had broken off the engagement when President John F Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963. 'Television came of age that dark day. All entertainment programming was canceled, and for the next four days NBC and the other networks carried live saturation coverage of the national tragedy.' The couple quickly got back together, and on December 8, 1963, she became Mrs. Lee Guber at the age of 34. Above, Walters with her daughter Jacqueline Danforth on January 7, 1990

By the summer of 1963, Walter and Lee Guber were engaged, but ‘all the old terrors about marriage returned, but this time I was determined to overcome them,’ she wrote. She had broken off the engagement when President John F Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963. ‘Television came of age that dark day. All entertainment programming was canceled, and for the next four days NBC and the other networks carried live saturation coverage of the national tragedy.’ The couple quickly got back together, and on December 8, 1963, she became Mrs. Lee Guber at the age of 34. Above, Walters with her daughter Jacqueline Danforth on January 7, 1990 

Walters admitted in her memoir that her marriage to Lee Guber did not get off to a ¿great start¿ and she had the urge to tear up the license. Nonetheless, the couple tried to have a child but Walters suffered three miscarriages, and blamed herself the first time it happened. ¿If I hadn¿t been working so hard, perhaps I could have continued that pregnancy,¿ she wrote. ¿I was devastated.¿ In 1968, Walters and Guber, decided to adopt a baby girl, named Jacqueline after Walter¿s sister. The couple separated in early 1972. Walters, 56, then married Merv Adelson on May 10, 1986, and the above photo was taken after their ceremony in Beverly Hills

Walters admitted in her memoir that her marriage to Lee Guber did not get off to a ‘great start’ and she had the urge to tear up the license. Nonetheless, the couple tried to have a child but Walters suffered three miscarriages, and blamed herself the first time it happened. ‘If I hadn’t been working so hard, perhaps I could have continued that pregnancy,’ she wrote. ‘I was devastated.’ In 1968, Walters and Guber, decided to adopt a baby girl, named Jacqueline after Walter’s sister. The couple separated in early 1972. Walters, 56, then married Merv Adelson on May 10, 1986, and the above photo was taken after their ceremony in Beverly Hills

In 1984, Walters met her third husband like her second: on a blind date. Merv Adelson was one of the founders and owners of Lorimar Productions, a TV company that had hits like Dallas, Knots Landing and The Waltons. They married in 1986. By the late 1980s, Walters' career is going well, but she was 'treading water' in her marriage to Adelson. Their bicoastal arrangement - Walters lived in New York City, Adelson in Los Angeles - was difficult. By the summer of 1990, they were separated and then divorced a few years later. Above, Adelson and Walters at the Met Gala in 1987

In 1984, Walters met her third husband like her second: on a blind date. Merv Adelson was one of the founders and owners of Lorimar Productions, a TV company that had hits like Dallas, Knots Landing and The Waltons. They married in 1986. By the late 1980s, Walters’ career is going well, but she was ‘treading water’ in her marriage to Adelson. Their bicoastal arrangement – Walters lived in New York City, Adelson in Los Angeles – was difficult. By the summer of 1990, they were separated and then divorced a few years later. Above, Adelson and Walters at the Met Gala in 1987

Walters' relationship with her daughter Jacqueline has had its difficulties. 'I love my daughter more than I love anyone in the world, always have, but when she reached adolescence our life together became extremely difficult,' she wrote. In 1982, at the age of 14, Jackie, as Walters called her, started hanging out with the Eighty-fourth Street Gang, and later learned her daughter was taking amphetamines. Then Jackie ran away. After four days, Walters got in touch with her daughter, who had hitchhiked across the country. After getting into a program, Jackie got better, and later on moved to Maine and opened a small residential outdoor therapy program for girls, Walters wrote in her 2008 memoir. Above, Walters and Oprah at the Plaza Hotel in New York City on November 1994

Walters’ relationship with her daughter Jacqueline has had its difficulties. ‘I love my daughter more than I love anyone in the world, always have, but when she reached adolescence our life together became extremely difficult,’ she wrote. In 1982, at the age of 14, Jackie, as Walters called her, started hanging out with the Eighty-fourth Street Gang, and later learned her daughter was taking amphetamines. Then Jackie ran away. After four days, Walters got in touch with her daughter, who had hitchhiked across the country. After getting into a program, Jackie got better, and later on moved to Maine and opened a small residential outdoor therapy program for girls, Walters wrote in her 2008 memoir. Above, Walters and Oprah at the Plaza Hotel in New York City on November 1994

Despite personal problems, Barbara Walters' professional life was filled with accolades. She was the first woman to co-host Today as well as the first to co-anchor a nightly news program. When ABC launched 20/20 in the summer of 1978, Walters eventually co-hosted with Hugh Downs for 15 years, and stayed with the program until 2004. The Barbara Walters Special was a hit when it premiered in 1976, and continued until 2015. Above, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, left, and Walters on The View on an episode that aired February 5, 2010

Despite personal problems, Barbara Walters’ professional life was filled with accolades. She was the first woman to co-host Today as well as the first to co-anchor a nightly news program. When ABC launched 20/20 in the summer of 1978, Walters eventually co-hosted with Hugh Downs for 15 years, and stayed with the program until 2004. The Barbara Walters Special was a hit when it premiered in 1976, and continued until 2015. Above, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, left, and Walters on The View on an episode that aired February 5, 2010

Walters was busy with 20/20 and her specials when The View, she wrote in her 2008 memoir Audition, sneaked up on her in 1997. 'My plate was full. I had no room for gravy.' But ABC daytime network executives, which were not affiliated with the news department, came to Walters and her longtime producer Bill Geddie and asked if they had an idea for a show to fill a struggling time slot: 11am. Walters did and The View premiered on August 11, 1997. It continues to be a success. Above, Walters and George Clooney at a reception after the 2012 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner

Walters was busy with 20/20 and her specials when The View, she wrote in her 2008 memoir Audition, sneaked up on her in 1997. ‘My plate was full. I had no room for gravy.’ But ABC daytime network executives, which were not affiliated with the news department, came to Walters and her longtime producer Bill Geddie and asked if they had an idea for a show to fill a struggling time slot: 11am. Walters did and The View premiered on August 11, 1997. It continues to be a success. Above, Walters and George Clooney at a reception after the 2012 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner

Barbara Walters, above in 1999, co-hosted 20/20 for 25 years. In her memoir, Audition, she said that interviewing Monica Lewinsky on 20/20 in 1999 was the biggest 'get' of her career

Barbara Walters, above in 1999, co-hosted 20/20 for 25 years. In her memoir, Audition, she said that interviewing Monica Lewinsky on 20/20 in 1999 was the biggest ‘get’ of her career

But Walters stayed in school, graduated in 1951 from Sarah Lawrence with a degree in English, and then got a job at a CBS affiliate’s publicity department. Not long after, she met Roy Cohn, who was a regular at her father’s Palm Island Latin Quarter, and her first husband, Robert Henry Katz, in Florida. Walters, who was by then in her early twenties, started dating Katz, whose father ran a company that manufactured children hats. They eventually got engaged and then married in June 1955.

‘The truth is, no matter whom I married in those days, it wouldn’t have worked out,’ Walters wrote. 

The marriage lasted about three years, and Walters wrote that during it she was ‘quite miserable.’ She called Katz a ‘decent man, but it became clearer every day that we had nothing in common,’ and they divorced.

Meanwhile, her father had walked away from the Latin Quarter and in 1957 opened a new club in Miami. The new spot, however, struggled and her father, who was in debt, attempted suicide but survived, according to her memoir.

‘I had from early childhood felt responsible for my parents,’ she wrote, pondering if their financial troubles pushed her toward a successful career. ‘My insecurity led me to be a workaholic, to eat lunch at my desk, never to miss a day of work, to make more and still more phone calls on behalf of my clients.’

Walters went on a date with Roy Cohn at the 21 Club, but saw him infrequently afterward. But when her father was arrested in the fall of 1960, she wrote, Cohn somehow had taken care of it, and Walters was to become his ‘loyal friend.’ Her father, Lou, who was now living in Las Vegas, had failed to appear in court for his tax case and a warrant had been issued.

After a stint in public relations and at the magazine Redbook, in 1961, Walters was offered a temporary opportunity to write for the Today show, and she jumped at the chance.

‘I realized I was giving up a steady job for something that was short-termed, but I loved working in television – the creativity, the interesting people, the whole atmosphere,’ she recalled in her memoir.

The schedule for Today was not easy, with Walters calling the 4:30am start time at the studio ‘grueling.’ Nonetheless, after the one female writer on staff left to get married, Walters took her place.

Technically Walters had first appeared on camera, in a bathing suit, she noted in her book, on The Morning Show on CBS – the network’s answer to the Today show – in 1955. However, her debut at the Today desk was on August 29, 1961 when she was sent to Paris to cover fashion week. She had ‘then-fashionable short-with-bangs Audrey Hepburn haircut.

‘I loved doing my little segment on the air. But it never occurred to me that I would ever have a regular on-air role myself.’

Barbara Walters was known for her work ethic. 'I had from early childhood felt responsible for my parents,' she wrote in Audition, pondering if their financial troubles pushed her toward a successful career. 'My insecurity led me to be a workaholic, to eat lunch at my desk, never to miss a day of work, to make more and still more phone calls on behalf of my clients.' Above, Walters, talks on the phone while in bed at her New York City apartment in 1966

Barbara Walters was known for her work ethic. ‘I had from early childhood felt responsible for my parents,’ she wrote in Audition, pondering if their financial troubles pushed her toward a successful career. ‘My insecurity led me to be a workaholic, to eat lunch at my desk, never to miss a day of work, to make more and still more phone calls on behalf of my clients.’ Above, Walters, talks on the phone while in bed at her New York City apartment in 1966

Walters started out on Today in a short-term writer position in 1961 and then became full time after the one female writer on the show left. She was then a 'Today Girl,' and eventually a reporter in fall 1964. She interviewed Lee Radziwill, Judy Garland, Truman Capote as well as Lady Bird Johnson and Rose Kennedy, which Walters wrote in her memoir was one of her favorite interviews. Above, Hugh Downs, left, sits next to Walters on Today in 1966. Downs and Walters had a great working relationship and would team up again for 20/20. Hugh Downs died on July 1, 2020 at the age of 99

Walters started out on Today in a short-term writer position in 1961 and then became full time after the one female writer on the show left. She was then a ‘Today Girl,’ and eventually a reporter in fall 1964. She interviewed Lee Radziwill, Judy Garland, Truman Capote as well as Lady Bird Johnson and Rose Kennedy, which Walters wrote in her memoir was one of her favorite interviews. Above, Hugh Downs, left, sits next to Walters on Today in 1966. Downs and Walters had a great working relationship and would team up again for 20/20. Hugh Downs died on July 1, 2020 at the age of 99

By the end of the 1960s, Walters was chasing serious political interviews, like Dean Rusk, who was secretary of state under JFK, and Lyndon B Johnson. A the tail end of 1970, she interviewed Henry Kissinger on Today. She also wrote her first book, How to Talk with Practically Anybody About Practically Anything. By February 1972, Walters was selected to cover Richard Nixon¿s historic visit to China. She is seen above covering Nixon's first presidential inauguration on January 20, 1969

By the end of the 1960s, Walters was chasing serious political interviews, like Dean Rusk, who was secretary of state under JFK, and Lyndon B Johnson. A the tail end of 1970, she interviewed Henry Kissinger on Today. She also wrote her first book, How to Talk with Practically Anybody About Practically Anything. By February 1972, Walters was selected to cover Richard Nixon’s historic visit to China. She is seen above covering Nixon’s first presidential inauguration on January 20, 1969

Walters pursued interviews relentlessly and she wrote about how it took two years and countless letters to get an interview with Cuban leader Fidel Castro. She went to Cuba in May 1977, and the revolutionary took a shine to Walters, making her a melted cheese sandwich at 2am, according to her memoir. 'Fidel Castro Speaks' aired on June 9, 1977, and Walters noted that it marked a 'turning point in my career.' Above, she is with Castro as they cross the Bay of Pigs during the filming of the special

Walters pursued interviews relentlessly and she wrote about how it took two years and countless letters to get an interview with Cuban leader Fidel Castro. She went to Cuba in May 1977, and the revolutionary took a shine to Walters, making her a melted cheese sandwich at 2am, according to her memoir. ‘Fidel Castro Speaks’ aired on June 9, 1977, and Walters noted that it marked a ‘turning point in my career.’ Above, she is with Castro as they cross the Bay of Pigs during the filming of the special

The next year, 1962, she was covering First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s trip to India, and tried but failed to get an interview with her. But Walters did snag her first head-of-state interview with Pakistan President Ayub Khan. Hugh Downs, a game show host, became Today’s anchor. (The pair would have a great working relationship for decades, first on Today and then on 20/20.)

It was also the year she met her second husband, Lee Guber, a theatrical producer, on a blind date. Walters really liked the divorced father of two except for one thing: his profession. ‘After my experiences with my father, I had sworn to myself that I would never get involved with anyone in show business,’ she wrote.

By the summer of 1963, the couple were engaged, but ‘all the old terrors about marriage returned, but this time I was determined to overcome them,’ she wrote.

She had broken off the engagement when President John F Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963. ‘Television came of age that dark day. All entertainment programming was canceled, and for the next four days NBC and the other networks carried live saturation coverage of the national tragedy.’

The couple quickly got back together, and on December 8, 1963, she became Mrs. Lee Guber at the age of 34.

Walters admitted in her memoir that the marriage did not get off to a ‘great start’ and she had the urge to tear up the marriage license. Nonetheless, the couple tried to have a child but Walters suffered three miscarriages and blamed herself the first time it happened. ‘If I hadn’t been working so hard, perhaps I could have continued that pregnancy,’ she wrote. ‘I was devastated.’

Meanwhile, at the show, one of the ‘Today Girls’ quit and Downs suggested Walters for the job, but the NBC bosses said she wasn’t ‘known’ or ‘beautiful.’ But she was cheap, Walters noted in her book, and she became a ‘Today Girl,’ and, eventually a reporter in October 1964. She interviewed Lee Radziwill, Judy Garland, Truman Capote as well as Lady Bird Johnson and Rose Kennedy, which Walters wrote was one of her favorite interviews.

By 1968, Walters and her husband, Lee Guber, decided to adopt a baby. On the ‘unforgettable day’ she brought her baby girl, named Jacqueline after Walter’s sister, home, she wrote: ‘Even as I write this, I get tears in my eyes. I cannot properly express my joy as I welcomed this tiny pink bundle.’

Walters told her daughter she was adopted, saying Jacqueline was born in her heart. 

By the end of decade, Walters was pursuing serious political interviews, like Dean Rusk, who was secretary of state under JFK and Lyndon B Johnson. At the tail end of 1970, she interviewed Henry Kissinger on Today. She also wrote her first book, How to Talk with Practically Anybody About Practically Anything.  

Hugh Downs left Today in the fall of 1971 but Walters, who had been on the morning desk for seven years at that point, wasn’t considered to replace him. The new host, Frank McGee, wanted Walters to do only the ‘girlie’ interviews, but she fought against it. The compromise was that McGee would ask the first three questions, and then Walters could ask the fourth. 

She decided to go after her own interviews. ‘And that’s when I got the reputation of being ambitious and aggressive in pursuit of interviews, the ‘pushy cookie.”

Barbara Walters published her autobiography, Audition, in 2008, that detailed her long and successful career as well as her personal life. During her second marriage to Lee Guber, Walters had three miscarriages. The couple decided to adopt a baby girl, which they named Jacqueline, after Walters' older sister. There were some difficult times when Jackie, as Walters called her, was a teen, including running away. Above, a photo of Jacqueline Danforth and Walters from the 2008 ABC News Special about Walters' memoir and life

Barbara Walters published her autobiography, Audition, in 2008, that detailed her long and successful career as well as her personal life. During her second marriage to Lee Guber, Walters had three miscarriages. The couple decided to adopt a baby girl, which they named Jacqueline, after Walters’ older sister. There were some difficult times when Jackie, as Walters called her, was a teen, including running away. Above, a photo of Jacqueline Danforth and Walters from the 2008 ABC News Special about Walters’ memoir and life

While Walters interviewed many heads of state - including the first-ever joint interview with Egyptian president Anwar el-Sadat and with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin on November 20, 1977 - dictators, and every US President from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama, she was also known for her celebrity interviews. Above, tennis legend Billie Jean King, left, and Walters. She interviewed King and her then husband Lawrence for 20/20 in 1981

While Walters interviewed many heads of state – including the first-ever joint interview with Egyptian president Anwar el-Sadat and with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin on November 20, 1977 – dictators, and every US President from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama, she was also known for her celebrity interviews. Above, tennis legend Billie Jean King, left, and Walters. She interviewed King and her then husband Lawrence for 20/20 in 1981

Walters interviewed many celebrities, which included Oprah Winfrey, Bradley Cooper, Cher, Michael Jackson and Katharine Hepburn. Video clips show her playing pool with Eddie Murphy and fishing with Sandra Bullock. Her in-depth interviews for the Barbara Walters Special started airing in 1976, and by 1993, she would be talking to the '10 Most Fascinating People' that year. Above, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Walters for a special that aired in 1990

Walters interviewed many celebrities, which included Oprah Winfrey, Bradley Cooper, Cher, Michael Jackson and Katharine Hepburn. Video clips show her playing pool with Eddie Murphy and fishing with Sandra Bullock. Her in-depth interviews for the Barbara Walters Special started airing in 1976, and by 1993, she would be talking to the ’10 Most Fascinating People’ that year. Above, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Walters for a special that aired in 1990

In her 2008 memoir, Audition, Walters wrote that she 'knew and liked Martha. I had decorated cookies with her for one of my "Specials"... We became more of less friendly.' When Martha Stewart, left, was indicted for security fraud and obstructing justice in 2003, Walters asked for an interview and got it. Stewart was convicted and served five months in federal prison in 2004, and today has several successful projects. Above, Stewart and Walters at an event in New York City on April 6, 2016

In her 2008 memoir, Audition, Walters wrote that she ‘knew and liked Martha. I had decorated cookies with her for one of my ‘Specials’… We became more of less friendly.’ When Martha Stewart, left, was indicted for security fraud and obstructing justice in 2003, Walters asked for an interview and got it. Stewart was convicted and served five months in federal prison in 2004, and today has several successful projects. Above, Stewart and Walters at an event in New York City on April 6, 2016

Meanwhile, in her personal life, her marriage to Lee Guber was crumbling.

‘So that was the best of times. Interesting, provocative interviews. My reputation growing. But all the while, my marriage was falling apart. This is, even today, extremely difficult to write about because there was no crisis, no abuse, no blame. This was simply, also, the worst of times.’ 

By February 1972, when Walters, now 42, was selected to cover President Richard Nixon’s historic visit to China, the couple had decided to separate. Two years later, in 1974, after Frank McGee died, NBC finally made Walters the co-host of Today – the only TV network news show at that time to have a female co-host. 

‘A very satisfying title after ten years of sitting beside the male host on the morning desk at Today. Ten years. Seems small by today’s standards, but in 1974 a breakthrough. The title did not translate to anything else,’ she wrote.

Walters did not get a raise, a bigger office or more say over the morning program, but she did gain media attention, which led to a bidding war over her talent. ABC wanted her to switch networks to co-host the ABC Evening News with Harry Reasoner as well as do four one-hour specials.

‘It was the historic offer to become the first female co-anchor of a network news program,’ she wrote. ‘A woman doing the network news was unheard of and certainly not something that I ever considered. The prestigious position had always been a male bastion, and the prevailing thought was that delivering the news about politics, wars, and natural disasters would not be taken seriously if done by a woman.’

After many years at NBC, Walters initially declined ABC’s offer. But eventually, after a media frenzy ensued, she agreed to the deal, which included the then unheard sum of $1 million annually for a five-year contract.

In 1976, Walters became the first woman co-host a nightly news program, but things were not going well with Harry Reasoner. It was also the year that comedian Gilda Radner introduced her Baba Wawa character – her parody of Walters – on Saturday Night Live.

‘I found it extremely upsetting,’ she wrote in Audition. ‘People started calling me Baba Wawa behind my back, and even to my face.’

But eventually she lightened up about the impression. 

While there was tension on the evening news program, the first Barbara Walters Special, which featured Barbra Streisand and President-elect Jimmy Carter, ‘was a runaway smash hit,’ and would continue until 2015. The ’10 Most Fascinating People’ specials started in 1993.

Walters pursued interviews relentlessly, and she wrote how it two years and countless letters to get an interview with Cuban leader Fidel Castro. She went to Cuba in May 1977, and the revolutionary took a shine to Walters, making her a melted cheese sandwich at 2am. ‘Fidel Castro Speaks’ aired on June 9, 1977, and Walters noted that it marked a ‘turning point in my career.’

Walters pretty much interviewed everyone of note moving forward, including the first-ever joint interview with Egyptian president Anwar el-Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin on November 20, 1977. The next year, in the summer of 1978, ABC started a newsmagazine program called 20/20, which Walters eventually co-hosted with Hugh Downs for 15 years, and continued to co-host after his departure until 2004.

Walters knew Donald Trump's former lawyer, Roy Cohn, who was a regular at Walters' father club the Palm Island Latin Quarter in Florida. In her 2008 memoir, Walters went on a date with Cohn at the 21 Club, but saw him infrequently afterwards. But when her father was arrested in the fall of 1960, Cohn somehow got it taken care of, and Walters was to become his 'loyal friend.' It is unclear if she met Trump through Cohn, but Walters did interview him in 1990 on 20/20, and also attended his 2005 wedding to his third wife, Melania. Above, Walters interviewing Trump, then running for president, for her annual '10 Most Fascinating People' special in 2015

Walters knew Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Roy Cohn, who was a regular at Walters’ father club the Palm Island Latin Quarter in Florida. In her 2008 memoir, Walters went on a date with Cohn at the 21 Club, but saw him infrequently afterwards. But when her father was arrested in the fall of 1960, Cohn somehow got it taken care of, and Walters was to become his ‘loyal friend.’ It is unclear if she met Trump through Cohn, but Walters did interview him in 1990 on 20/20, and also attended his 2005 wedding to his third wife, Melania. Above, Walters interviewing Trump, then running for president, for her annual ’10 Most Fascinating People’ special in 2015

Walters landed the interviews everyone else wanted. She took world leaders and dictators to task with hard-hitting questions, and interviewed every US President from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama. 'I'm different on camera,' Walters told Vogue in a 2008 article. 'I have guts; I have no doubts; I have no fear when I'm working.' Above, Walters interviews Senator Bernie Sanders for her '10 Most Fascinating People' special in 2015

Walters landed the interviews everyone else wanted. She took world leaders and dictators to task with hard-hitting questions, and interviewed every US President from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama. ‘I’m different on camera,’ Walters told Vogue in a 2008 article. ‘I have guts; I have no doubts; I have no fear when I’m working.’ Above, Walters interviews Senator Bernie Sanders for her ’10 Most Fascinating People’ special in 2015

After her divorce from her second husband, Walters, in her early forties, wrote that she was experiencing what she had never really known before – ‘fun and romances.’ She had a ‘long and rocky affair’ with then Massachusetts Senator Edward W Brooke, dated Alan Greenspan and John Warner, also a senator, who at one point was married to Elizabeth Taylor, according to her memoir.

In 1984, Walters met her third husband like her second: on a blind date. Merv Adelson was one of the founders and owners of Lorimar Productions, a TV company that had hits like Dallas, Knots Landing and The Waltons, she wrote. ‘We began to see each other a lot over the summer, and I realized I was falling in love.’

The pair were engaged in the next year, but Walters postponed it twice. Walters had experienced by then the loss of father in 1977, her sister Jacqueline in 1985, and her mother, Dena, was in poor health. Merv Adelson and Walters tied the knot on May 10, 1986. Her mother died two years later.

While professionally Walters was winning Emmys and accolades for her work, her daughter Jacqueline had troubles as a teen. ‘I love my daughter more than I love anyone in the world, always have, but when she reached adolescence our life together became extremely difficult.’

In 1982, at the age of 14, Jackie, as Walters called her, started hanging out with the Eighty-fourth Street Gang, and later learned her daughter was taking amphetamines. And then Jackie ran away, according to her memoir. ‘Days went by with no word… I was going crazy.’

After four days, Walters got in touch with her daughter, who had hitchhiked across the country. After getting into a program, Jackie got better, and moved to Maine and opened a small residential outdoor therapy program for girls, Walters wrote.

By the late 1980s, Walters’ career is going well and things with her daughter have calmed down, but she was ‘treading water’ in her marriage to Merv Adelson. Their bicoastal arrangement – Walters lived in New York City, Adelson in Los Angeles – was difficult by the summer of 1990, they were separated, and then divorced a few years later.

Walters was busy with 20/20 and her specials when The View, she wrote, snuck up on her in 1997. ‘My plate was full. I had no room for gravy.’

But ABC daytime network executives, which were not affiliated with the news department, came to Walters and her longtime producer Bill Geddie, asking if they had an idea for a show to fill a struggling time slot: 11am. Walters did. She said: ‘I’ve always wanted to do a show with women of different generations, backgrounds, and views.’

Walters wrote that she had two inspirations: This Week with David Brinkley, and Virginia Graham’s Girl Talk, a daytime program that run during the 1960s. ‘So I wondered, if we took a small and varied group of women and made them a permanent cast, would that work for an informative and entertaining hour?’

While the network wasn’t over the moon about the idea, they did commission a pilot. Walters said that the key was to find ‘the right women with the right chemistry.’ The four women who were the original cast – Meredith Vieira, Star Jones, Joy Behar and Debbie Matenopoulos – were on the first panel that auditioned, according to the memoir. The name was also shortened from The View From Here, which was being used by a Canadian program.

Geddie worked out the show’s format with Walters and was named the show’s co-executive producer. Walters called him indispensable, according to her memoir.

The View premiered on August 11, 1997 and continues to be a success.    

In her interview with ABC News in May 2014, Walters said: ‘I want to be remembered by my daughter as a good and loving mother. I want to be remembered by my friends as somebody who was loyal. I want to be remembered in television maybe as a creator, maybe as a good newswoman.’

Barbara Walters, above in April 2016, had a groundbreaking career in television journalism. She started out in a short-term writer position for Today in 1961 and worked her way up to co-host in 1974, winning a Daytime Emmy the next year. In 1976, she became the first woman to co-anchor a nightly news program, and her Barbara Walters Specials premiered that year and became a hit. She co-hosted 20/20 for 25 years, and helped to create The View, which launched in 1997 and is still a success. Walters died at the age of 92

Barbara Walters, above in April 2016, had a groundbreaking career in television journalism. She started out in a short-term writer position for Today in 1961 and worked her way up to co-host in 1974, winning a Daytime Emmy the next year. In 1976, she became the first woman to co-anchor a nightly news program, and her Barbara Walters Specials premiered that year and became a hit. She co-hosted 20/20 for 25 years, and helped to create The View, which launched in 1997 and is still a success. Walters died at the age of 92



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