Barbara Walters, a pioneering TV journalist recognized for her tenacious interviewing skills, has died at 93.
“Barbara Walters passed away peacefully in her home surrounded by loved ones. She lived her life with no regrets. She was a trailblazer not only for female journalists but for all women,” Walters’ spokesperson Cindi Berger told CNN in a statement.
Born September 25, 1929, in Boston, Walters grew up around celebrities due to her father’s career, one reason she never appeared fazed by interviewing the rich and famous. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1953 and pursued journalism.
Beginning her broadcast career in 1961 as a reporter, writer, and panel member for NBC’s “Today” show, Walters went on to co-host the program in 1974 and join ABC News as the first female anchor on an evening news program in 1976. At ABC, Walters launched segments such as ‘The Barbara Walters Specials” and “10 Most Fascinating People” before becoming a co-host and correspondent for ABC News’ “20/20” in 1984. While working, she interviewed every US president and first lady since Richard and Pat Nixon.
For more than fifty years, Walters was a household name in broadcast journalism, consistently on air either speaking with world leaders, in celebrities’ homes for her regular “Barabara Walters Specials” or on “The View,” a daytime talk show in which a diverse panel of women discuss the latest headlines.
Walters was notoriously competitive and an interviewer to be reckoned with. Having interviewed presidents, world leaders, and almost every imaginable celebrity, she had a reputation for eliciting honest answers and bringing her subjects to tears.
To those, usually men, that perceived her as bold and questioned her forthright demeanor, she was not swayed by their criticism.
“If it’s a woman, it’s caustic; if it’s a man, it’s authoritative. If it’s a woman, it’s too pushy; if it’s a man, it’s aggressive in the best sense of the word,” she once observed.
Her programs, many of which she produced, amassed some of the highest-rated of their type and inspired several similar shows. She left “The View” in 2014 but remained a part-time contributor to ABC News for two years.
“I knew it was time,” Walters told CNN’s Chris Cuomo at the time. “I like all the celebration, that’s great, but in my heart, I thought, ‘I want to walk away while I’m still doing good work.’ So I will.”
Looking upon the numerous women who had admired her throughout her career, Walters said they were her legacy.
“How do you say goodbye to something like 50 years in television?” she said in conclusion. “How proud when I see all the young women who are making and reporting the news. If I did anything to help make that happen, that is my legacy. From the bottom of my heart to all of you with whom I have worked and who have watched and been by my side, I can say: ‘Thank you.’”
As an aspiring journalist and young woman, I’m sad to see such a titan go. And while I may not muddy my shoes stepping into Walter’s exact footsteps, I hope to walk through the doors once wrenched open by her determination and relentless pursuit of the truth.
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