The media have announced the death of pioneering journalist and television star Barbara Walters. She was 93 years old.
According to her representative, Cindi Berger, she died on Friday night. According to Berger, Barbara Walters died peacefully at home, surrounded by her loved ones. She led a wealthy lifestyle.
“She had no regrets about the way she lived. She blazed the door for women everywhere, not just female journalists.”
Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger tweeted about Walters’ death, saying that the “unique reporter” died in her New York home.
Iger said on Twitter that Barbara was “a true legend, a pioneer, not just for women in journalism but for journalism itself” and that she had gotten some of the “most important interviews of our time.”
Walters, born on September 25, 1929, in Boston, grew up in New York, where her father, nightclub owner and Broadway producer Lou Walters, was connected with various celebrities. She earned an English degree from Sarah Lawrence College.
Walters began her career in television journalism in 1961, when she was hired as a writer and researcher for NBC’s Today program after a brief tenure as a writer for CBS News. She rose through the ranks, covering feature stories and weather reports before being promoted to reporter-at-large and becoming the program’s first female co-host with Hugh Downs and Frank McGee.
In her 2008 autobiography, Audition, Walters confessed that she had an affair with US Senator Edward Brooke in the 1970s. She was also dating Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan at the time.
Walters joined ABC’s 20/20 news show three years after leaving NBC, three years after joining the ABC Evening News as a co-anchor in 1976. She co-hosted 20/20 until 2004 when she interviewed celebrities such as Michael Jackson, Monica Lewinsky, Richard Nixon, and Vladimir Putin. She was comfortable chatting with both political figures and pop culture superstars. She also moderated presidential debates.
In 1997, Walters debuted her daytime talk show, The View. She frequently co-hosted the show until she quit in 2014.
Every year from 1993 through 2015, ABC presented her special year-end Most Fascinating People show (except 2000 and 2001).
Among the many distinctions and awards she has won are three Emmy nominations, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the New York Women’s Agenda Lifetime Achievement Award, and the News and Documentary Emmy Award.
The actress was outspoken about confronting sexism in her working life.
“The ‘bad news’ was that a woman couldn’t do it. The mob would drown out her words, ” Walters remarked a 2015 Oprah’s Master Class DVD. She was unable to enter combat zones and ask challenging questions.
As a result, according to Walters, she avoided giving in.
“Some people admired it. Others have said she’s unpleasant,” Walters remarked. “On the one hand, it raised my value, but on the other, it earned me a reputation as an aggressive person. That aggressive cookie has vanished.”
Joy Behar, Sunny Hostin, Sara Haines, and special guest panelist Ana Navarro of The View season 25 celebrated Walters’ 92nd birthday in 2021. (The current moderator, Whoopi Goldberg, was not present.)
Meredith Vieira, a View graduate who became the show’s first moderator, told PEOPLE in September of that year that it was a “tremendous” pleasure to be chosen by Walters.
“Working with her was like a dream come true for me. She might have been afraid to hire me because she didn’t know I had a sense of humor. Barbara, on the other hand, took a chance on me. “I wasn’t looking for it or interested in it until I went to the audition,” she explained. “I’m not sure why I’d appreciate this, but I do,” I realized.
“Once you work with Barbara, she’s pretty complicated,” Vieira added.
She is a true taskmaster and tough as nails, which is why she was successful in her field when there were so few women. She was tenacious as well as intelligent.”
In honor of The View’s 25th anniversary, many former co-hosts spoke to PEOPLE about Walters’ pioneering career and her huge influence on them.
“I’ve always pictured Barbara as the grownup on [The View] while the rest of us played in the sandbox. “Because Barbara was always present, she served as a stable element that was extremely nice to have,” Goldberg remarked. “She was a treasure trove of excellent knowledge. She knew everyone and had conversations with everyone. People wanted to attend, and many wanted to meet her. Thus, her presence was a blessing. We had the opportunity to learn how to conduct a real-life interview. We were fortunate to have that.”
“I’m missing her right now from the program,” she said. I do. Although I would like to see her return, it appears doubtful.”
“Regardless of what anyone believes, working with Barbara Walters was one of my greatest honors. “I’ll never forget that if it hadn’t been for the hardships women like Barbara encountered as they progressed through the industry ranks, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today,” Lisa Ling said. “She was stern with us because she required greatness, and I worked incredibly hard to match her expectations since she put her trust in me. Barbara taught me a lot, and I will be eternally grateful for the opportunity and advice she gave me.”
Debbie Matenopoulos calls Walters, “The show was developed by the Grande Dame and executive producer Bill Geddie, so whatever she said should have gone down well. Not to mention that she paved the way for many women who followed in her footsteps in journalism. After paying her dues, she was granted the authority to make decisions. I won’t lie: she was tough and held everyone to a high standard. But only because she refused to accept anything less than what she was willing to offer. The term “boss” is often used these days, yet she was the phrase’s definition. There will only ever be one Barbara Walters.”
According to current co-host Hostin, Walters “was very much a teacher” and “was very much a mentor” for him.
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“She taught me how to enquire and to be truly interested in others,” Sherri Shepherd, who will host her show this autumn, said. Barbara taught me to speak up.”
Walters never married again after divorcing her third husband, Merv Adelson, in 1992. Her only heir is Jacqueline (“Jackie”) Danforth, her daughter with her ex-husband Lee Guber.