Barbara Walters made it official today that she is retiring in the summer of 2014. Ms Walters has been a journalist for over 50 years and she feels that, “…to sit on a sunny field and admire the very gifted women — and OK, some men, too — who will be taking my place.”
Ms Walters started on the NBC Today Show in 1961 as a researcher and a writer, she then moved to a regular slot on the show as the “Today Girl” which saw her doing the lighter aspects of the new and the weather. In 1974 she officially became the co-host of the Today show.
Barbara has always been a straight-forward, cut to the chase type journalist. Her relationships with coworkers and co-anchors was the same. In 1976-78, her reaction to her co-anchor Harry Reasoner (who was himself as well known television news anchor) and his apparent disdain for her, did not go un-mentioned.
Ms Walter’s is best known for her years on the ABC News Magazine 20/20 and her interviews. Interviews that were as diverse as they were intimate. Her subjects ranged from John Wayne to Anwar Sadat; Katherine Hepburn to Nelson Mandela. It could be said the these interviews were the making of a legend in the Journalistic community.
She was considered a “personality” journalist and she was well known for her “scoop” interviews. She has made history with her interviews. In 1977 she interviewed Cuban leader Fidel Castro and on March 3, 1999, her interview of Monica Lewinsky (after the President Clinton scandal) was seen by a record 74 million viewers, the highest rating ever for a news program. Walters asked Lewinsky, “What will you tell your children when you have them?” Lewinsky replied, “Mommy made a big mistake,” at which point Walters brought the program to a dramatic conclusion, turning to the viewers and saying, “And that is the understatement of the year.
That Ms Walters is a personality in her own right was cemented when she got her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007. But before that impressionists and comedians, most notably on the Saturday Night Live cult comedy show by the late comedian Gilda Radner, did their “version” of Baba Wahwah because of her unique speech pattern and accent.
In 2012, Barbara revealed that she actually loved the Radner impression of her and that she found it very funny.
In Walters’ 2008 autobiography, Audition, she claimed that she had an affair in the 1970s with Edward Brooke, then a married United States Senator from Massachusetts. It is not clear whether Walters also was married at the time. Ms Walters said they ended the affair to protect their careers from scandal. In 2007 she dated Pulitzer Prize-winning gerontologist Robert Neil Butler.
She announced on the May 10, 2010, episode of The View that she would be undergoing open heart surgery to replace a faulty aortic valve. Walters added that she knew for quite a while that she was suffering from aortic valve stenosis, even though she was symptom-free. The procedure to fix the faulty heart valve “went well, and the doctors are very pleased with the outcome,” Walters’ spokeswoman, Cindi Berger, said in a statement on May 14, 2010.
Barbara Walters leaves an award studded career. She has received over 27 awards for her talkshow and another nomination for the same and in 1998, one of those 27 awards was the 1998 Lucy Award in recognition of her excellence and innovation in her creative works that have enhanced the perception of women through the medium of television.
Starting in 1993, Walters introduced the “most fascinating person of the year” list and the first person on it was, the then, First Lady Hilary Rodham Clinton and the list finished in 2012 with US Army General David Petraeus.
We would like to add another name to this most fascination person of the year; Ms Barbara Jill Walters.