Barbara Walters, the Emmy-winning pioneering journalist who paved the way for decades of women journalists in broadcast TV, died on Friday. She was 93.
“Barbara Walters, who shattered the glass ceiling and became a dominant force in an industry once dominated by men, has died,” tweeted ABC News Friday. Walters worked for ABC from 1976 to her retirement in 2014.
— ABC News (@ABC) December 31, 2022
Walters got her start as a writer and segment producer on NBC’s “The Today Show.” By 1974, she became a co-host of the show — and two years later was named the first woman to co-anchor a network’s evening news show when she joined Harry Reasoner on “ABC Evening News.”
From 1979 to 2004, Walters co-hosted and produced the ABC primetime newsmagazine “20/20.” She also launched the annual year-end primetime special on the year’s most fascinating people that was a huge ratings draw and cemented her reputation for mixing interviews with serious news figures as well as pop culture stars.
One early scoop came in November 1977, when she landed a joint interview with Egyptian President Anwar Al Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.
Other notable interviews included entertainers Judy Garland and Michael Jackson, as well as world leaders Bashar al-Assad and Fidel Castro. She also interviewed every president and first lady since Richard Nixon. (Walters interviewed the Trumps while they were campaigning in 2015, and Joe Biden when he was Barack Obama’s vice president.)
When asked about the interviews she remembered the most, Walters listed Christopher Reeve, John Wayne, Robin Givens and Mike Tyson, Monica Lewinsky (which was watched by a record-breaking 74 million viewers), Audrey Hepburn, Clint Eastwood (whom she admitted she had a crush on), and Robert and Michelle Smithdas, a married couple that was both deaf and blind.
In 1997, Walters created the ABC daytime talk show “The View,” which she also produced and co-hosted until her retirement from broadcast TV in 2014. The talk show, which still airs, became known for the fiery, sometimes hostile, interactions between the hosts and its ever-changing lineup.
Walters returned to “The View” to celebrate the show’s 4000th episode in 2015, and in 2016 to talk about her interview subject and friend Nancy Reagan.
Walters had one child, Jacqueline, whom she adopted with second husband (married 1963-1976), Lee Guber. The journalist was also married to Robert Katz (1955-1957), and twice married and divorced to TV producer Merv Adelson (1981-1984, 1986-1992).
Lawrence Yee contributed to this post.
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