10 Most memorable Barbara Walters moments
After more than 50 years on the air, 84-year-old Barbara Walters retires this Friday, leaving behind a rich legacy of broadcast journalism. We celebrate 10 of Babs' most memorable moments over the years.
Walters worked for two years to land a sit-down with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and, in 1977, she got it. Held the same year Castro's country was holding nearly a dozen American hostages, Walters seized the opportunity to grill Fidel on everything from communism to his own death. Interestingly enough, rumors of a secret love connection between the two have dogged Walters for years.
While Katherine Hepburn was known as a quirky character, it was Barbara Walters who was throwing out the offbeat questions (something she later became known for) in the pair's 1981 interview. Among the most notorious was what Babs would later call one of the biggest gaffes of her career: "What kind of tree are you, if you think you're a tree?"
Nothing Michael Jackson ever did was boring, and his 1997 interview with Barbara Walters was no exception. In his bizarre but genuinely interesting sit-down with Babs, Jackson opened up about everything from the paparazzi to his fears about premature death. Plus, in a moment of sad foreshadowing, Jackson reveals his "doctor" gave him the news when Princess Diana died.
In what remains one of Walters' most buzzed-about interviews, Babs sat down with Monica Lewinsky to the tune of a record 74 million viewers. The most talked-about moment? When Walters asked what Lewinsky planned to tell her future children about her indiscretion with President Clinton, Lewinsky said she would tell them, "Mommy made a big mistake." To which Walters, in that sharp but fantastic way of hers, replied, "And that is the understatement of the year."
In Hugo Chavez's very first interview with an American journalist since the controversial leader called President Bush "the devil," Barbara Walters pointedly told Chavez that Americans essentially hate him. She then pried to uncover what the president of Venezuela though about being America's most hated.
Barbara Walters' 2010 interview with Justin Bieber is almost even more fascinating now than it was then, given how much the pop idol has changed in the last few years. Still, the interview — which was part of Babs' Most Fascinating People series — was memorable, particularly when he taught her how to dougie.
Even the queen of talk TV isn't impervious to Barbara Walters' special brand of tear-inducing interviews — Oprah got choked up during her 2010 chat with Walters while they discussed those relationship rumors involving Winfrey's best friend, Gayle King. Winfrey also got emotional when opening up to Walters about things like her weight struggles and surviving sexual abuse.
Miley, Miley, Miley... you can always count on Miss Cyrus to keep things interesting. In her December 2013 interview with Walters, Miles opened up on a hot-button topic at the time: her split from fiancé Liam Hemsworth. In the surprisingly honest and candid conversation, Cyrus admitted, "I don't think I realized what 19 truly is, and I got engaged at 19, and I definitely wouldn't change being engaged. It was fun wearing a fat rock for a few years. But now, I just feel like I can actually be happy."
Before everyone was talking about Lindsay Lohan, Barbara Walters went on the record to express her distaste at being dissed by the troubled starlet. The resulting segment of The View was one of the most talked-about for quite some time — and proof time hasn't dulled the Babs' edge.
To celebrate bidding adieu to her lifelong career in broadcast journalism, Walters stopped by SNL to poke a little fun at herself. After a montage of SNL's various versions of Barbara Walters — performed by everyone from Gilda Radner to Cheri Oteri — Barbara Wawa declared it an honor "to see my groundbreaking career in journalism reduced to a cartoon character with a ridiculous voice."