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Barbara Walters: The Most Legendary Female American Journalist

Barbara Walters

Barbara Walters was one of the most iconic and pathbreaking journalists in American broadcasting history. A true pioneer, Barbara Walters paved the way for women to make their mark in a male-dominated field. In this post, we will find out more about Barbara Walters. Let’s get started.

Barbara Walters: All You Need To Know

When was Barbara Walters born?

Barbara Walters was born in Boston, Massachusetts on September 25, 1929. Her parents were descendants of Jewish refugees from the Russian Empire. Her paternal grandfather, Isaac Abrahams, emigrated to England from Poland, changing his name to Abraham Walters, and, after Walters’ father was born, emigrated to the United States with his family in 1900. Lou Walters opened the Latin Quarter in New York City, produced the Broadway show Ziegfeld Follies of 1943, and served as the entertainment director for Tropicana Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Where did Barbara Walters study?

After attending the private Ethical Culture Fieldston School and Birch Wathen Lenox School in New York City, she graduated from Miami Beach Senior High School in 1947 and in 1951, Barbara Walters received a BA in English from Sarah Lawrence College.

Barbara Walters: Career Summary

Barbara Walters’ career on national television began in 1961; She was a reporter, writer, and panelist on NBC’s Today Show. She was promoted to assistant anchor in 1974, but ABC offered her a better contract in 1976.

At ABC, she started the programs Barbara Walters Specials and The 10 Most Fascinating People, which has become a regular year-end program. Walters has interviewed every president and first lady since Richard and Pat Nixon.

Since 1984, she spent two decades as a host and correspondent for the ABC News magazine program, 20/20. She occasionally did reporting for that program.

Hillary Clinton and Oprah Winfrey today became two of the last great public figures to appear on the set of the American network ABC to pay tribute to one of the most iconic journalists in the country, Barbara Walters, on her last day in front of the cameras.

The pioneer among female television journalists, aged 84, said goodbye to the cameras after more than 50 years of career during which she interviewed the main figures of world politics, from Fidel Castro or Hugo Chávez to Muammar al Gaddafi, the Shah of Iran, Vladimir Putin or their already historic joint interview in 1977 between the Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and the Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin.

She even called Syrian President Bashar al Assad a “dictator and tyrant” face to face. Artists such as Barbra Streisand, Liz Taylor, John Wayne, Paul Newman, and Michael Douglas also submitted to her interviews, which she always prided herself on preparing herself.

However, her most famous interview was the one she conducted in 1998 with Monica Lewinski shortly after the sexual encounter of the White House intern with President Bill Clinton was uncovered. It almost cost Bill Clinton his presidency.

Bill Clinton’s wife Hillary Clinton had some advice for Barbara Walters upon her retirement:

“Some advice, take some time off,” Clinton told Walters. “You’re not in a position to tell me that,” the veteran journalist replied with a laugh, who also couldn’t help but ask the question whose answer everyone wants to know from Clinton: “Are you going to run?” ( Are you going to run for election? ). To which Clinton responded with another joke: “I am running in the park,”.

What did Oprah Winfrey say about Barbara Walters?

Another woman who has made history on American television, presenter Oprah Winfrey, said this on the occasion of Barbara Walters’ retirement:

“You are the reason I wanted to do television, you paved the way for many women,” she told an emotional Walters, before announcing the entry of almost two dozen famous female television journalists who followed in the veteran reporter’s footsteps.

“This is my legacy,” Walters said excitedly, pointing to all her successors.

Walters was honored throughout the week by her network, which also broadcast a two-hour special about her in prime time. A lot of the other programs on the network took their time to appreciate the life and career of one of journalism’s greatest icons.

When did Barbara Walters retire from journalism?

Veteran ABC News personality Barbara Walters retired from television journalism in 2014, closing a chapter in one of the most interesting careers in the history of journalism.

She announced her retirement during The View, the daytime magazine show she created in 1997. Walters, who was 83 at that time, continued to work as an executive producer on the show.

“I am very happy with my decision and look forward to a wonderful and special year on both The View and ABC News,” she said.

“I created The View and I am delighted that it survives my departure.”

“I don’t want to be on another show or climb another mountain,” Walters said. “I want to sit in a sunny field and admire the talented women – okay, some men too – who will replace me”.

Rumors about Walters’ retirement surfaced in March 2014. However, she quickly denied them and said on The View that “if and when I have to announce it, I will do it on this show.”

Walters had a health scare in January, when he suffered a cut to his forehead after falling down the stairs during his visit to the British ambassador’s residence in Washington. Three years ago she underwent surgery to repair a heart valve.

“There is only one Barbara Walters,” said ABC News president Ben Sherwood. “We hope her final year on television is as outstanding, innovative and eye-catching as Barbara herself.”

When did Barbara Walters die?

Barbara Walters, renowned American journalist and presenter died on 30 December 2022. She was 93 years old. Walters “passed away peacefully at her home surrounded by her loved ones,” her representative said in a statement issued on Friday, December 30.  Barbara Walters is legendary for being a pioneer in the field of female journalists.

Throughout her decades-long career, she made her mark as one of the industry’s first television writers, and was the first woman to co-anchor a network evening news program.

From 1979 to 2004, Walters served as co-anchor of ABC’s 20/20 news program and established herself as one of television’s leading interviewers.

Which are some of Barbara Walters’ most famous interviews?

Mark David Chapman

In 1992, Barbara Walters sat down with Chapman, John Lennon’s killer, and asked him why he killed the musician: “I thought by killing him I would get his fame.”

Richard Nixon

This was disgraced American president Richard Nixon’s first interview after the Watergate scandal. Walters closed with the question: “Do you regret not burning the tapes?”

Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro escorted Walters and her crew through the Bay of Pigs, making them the first Americans to cross the inlet in 16 years since the failed US invasion of 1961. Speaking about Fidel Castro, Barbara Walters would later say “the word charismatic was made for him”.

Mike Tyson and Robin Givens

Barbara Walters spoke with Mike Tyson and his then-wife Robin Givens to discuss the alleged violence in their relationship. A week after the interview, Givens filed for divorce with Tyson.

Monica Lewinsky

It remains one of the most viewed television interviews in history. Here, the then-intern Monica Lewinsky spoke about her relationship with Bill Clinton.

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