Barbara Walters, Legendary Journalist And TV Icon, Dead At 93
Barbara Walters, the legendary Emmy-award winning broadcast journalism pioneer and co-creator of “The View”, has died. She was 93 years old.
ABC News confirmed the news on Friday. No cause of death was given. Disney CEO Bob Iger tweeted that Walters died on Friday evening at her home in New York.
Throughout her more than 50-year career, Walter became a staple in broadcasting, helming the “Today” show ABC News, “20/20”, “The View”, and her annual “Most Fascinating People” special, while simultaneously paving the way for other female journalists.
Making a name in an industry dominated by men became an unspoken routine for Walters who began working for “20/20” in 1978. Joining the news magazine reunited Walters with her former “Today” co-host, Hugh Downs, and solidified what became her legacy.
Walters was born on September 25, 1929 in Boston, Massachusetts. She grew up in Boston, Miami and New York, the latter of which is where she launched her journalism career in the early 1950s.
A year after earning a B.A. degree from Sarah Lawrence College, Walters landed a job in the publicity department of NBC affiliate WNBT-TV. She moved on to WPIX, before becoming a writer on CBS’ “The Morning Show” in 1955. Walters went on to join “Today” as a writer and regular correspondent. She became the first female co-anchor of the long-running morning show in 1974, following the death of anchor Frank McGee.
Two years later, Walters joined ABC Evening News as co-anchor to Harry Reasoner with whom she had a rocky work relationship because he didn’t want a co-anchor. By the end of the ’70s Walters had moved on to “20/20” and slowly became the face of the news program landing memorable interviews that offered a mixture of hard-hitting news interviews with controversial world leaders like Fidel Castro, President Richard Nixon, Egypt’s former president Anwar Sadat, Palestine’s Yasir Arafat, and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez; to celebrity sit-downs with Katherine Hepburn, Christopher Reeve, Angelina Jolie, Sir Laurence Olivier, and countless others.
In 1997, Walters made her return to morning television with the premiere of “The View”. Although helmed by Walters, the show launched with original co-hosts Star Jones, Debbie Matenopoulos, Meredith Vieira, and Joy Behar. Whoopi Goldberg and Sheri Shepherd joined the show in 2007, followed by Rosie O’Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and later Jenny McCarthy and Raven Symone. All of the aforementioned co-hosts have left The View, with the exception of Goldberg and Behar.
Meanwhile, Walters made T.V. history once again in 1999, as a record-breaking 74 million viewers tuned in to watch her “20/20” interview with Monica Lewinsky. In 2010, Walters underwent open heart surgery, but the health scare didn’t stall her career. By that time, Walters was an iconic figure and continued as co-host and executive producer of “The View” until her official retirement in 2014.
Over “The View”’s more than 20-year run the show has seen a revolving door of co-hosts, and ongoing rumors of tension behind the scenes. Walters brushed off many of the reports by either not responding, or denying the numerous rifts between her and other co-hosts.
Although Walters ended her run as co-host of “20/20” in 2004, she stayed on board as a part-time contributor for ABC News until 2016. She also returned to “The View” multiple times as a special guest.
Walters earned an array of accolades over the years, including being inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1989. She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007, and earned the lifetime achievement award at the 30th Annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards in 2009.
Despite being such a public figure, Walters kept the details of her personal life closely guarded until the 2008 release of her best-selling memoir Audition. In the book, Walters spilled details about her family dynamic, her career, admitted to having an Massachusetts Senator Edward R. Brooke, and opened up about her relationship with Alan Greenspan, former chair of the federal reserve bank.
Walters was married four times, first to business executive Robert Henry Katz in 1955. The union ended after just under a year. In 1963, Walters married producer, Lee Guber, and adopted a daughter, Jacqueline, in 1968. Walters and Guber split in 1976. After her second marriage came to an end, Walters married TV producer and real estate developer, Merv Adelson, from 1981 until 1984. The pair remarried again in 1986, divorcing for a final time in 1992.
Walters is survived by her daughter, Jacqueline.