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One cannot throw the word “trailblazer” around; it’s a word all about breaking boundaries and changing history — and that’s exactly why Barbara Walters forever deserved that title. When you think of journalism, chances are, she’s one of the people to come to mind, and rightly so, she broke so many barriers for women in the journalism world.
Because of her groundbreaking work in the television industry, she was known as a legendary figure for women to look up to. She was truly a modern-day icon, and hero for working women. She once said, “This is what I tell, especially young women, fight the big fights. Don’t fight the little fight… Be the first one in, be the last one out. Do your homework, choose your battles. Don’t whine, and don’t be the one who complains about everything. Fight the big fight.”
Sadly, on Dec 30, 2022, Walters passed away at the age of 93 in her Manhattan home. To honor her groundbreaking career and life, let’s take a look back. From her turbulent beginnings to her incredibly private life behind the camera, her iconic interviews to trailblazing journalism work, her career and life were something extraordinary.
Check out Walters’ career and life in these photos below!
Early Life for Barbara
Born on Sept 25, 1929, in Boston, Barbara Walters was the eldest child of Dena and Lou Walters. She had two younger siblings named Jacqueline, who passed in 1985, and a brother named Burton, who died of pneumonia in 1932. Life was turbulent for Barbara Walters, considering her father gained and lost their money rapidly throughout her childhood. Growing up, she lived in Boston, Miami Beach, and later New York City, where she was surrounding by celebrities (which helped her interviewing stars later!)
In the early 1950s, she received her bachelors in English from Sarah Lawrence College.
Walters first hit the scene in the early 1960s, when she was a writer and segment producer of “women’s interest stories” on The Today Show, after years of working as a publicist with Tex McCrary Inc and writer at Redbook magazine. Before that, she also produced a 15-minute children’s program called Ask the Camera in 1953.
Within a decade, she became NBC’s first female co-host, hosting her own show in 1971 called Not for Women Only. Only five years later, she became the first female co-anchor of any network evening news.
She once said, “A job is not a career. I think I started out with a job. It turned into a career and changed my life.”
Barbara Walters is most well-known for her incredible, trailblazing work in journalism, especially when it came to high-profile interviews with Presidents like Richard Nixon and LBJ, world leaders like Vladimir Putin and Fidel Castro, and celebrities like Michael Jackson and Oscar-winning legend Katherine Hepburn.
She once said, when talking about the interview process, “A good laugh makes any interview, or any conversation, so much better.”
Barbara & Lee Guber
Before marrying theatrical producer and theater owner Lee Guber in 1963, Walters was briefly married to a business executive named Robert Henry Katz from 1955 to 1957. As for her and Guber, they married on December 8, 1963, and were together for over 13 years. They kept their relationship very low-key from the spotlight, even adopting their daughter Jacqueline Dena Guber in secret after Walters had three miscarriages.
Barbara & Her Daughter Jackie
Jacqueline Dena Guber, later known as Jackie Danforth, was named after Barbara’s elder sister, who later passed away from ovarian cancer. Not much is known about her daughter, except for the fact that she struggled with her mother’s fame to a great extent, running away, battling with addiction, and hitchhiking over 800 miles.
“I did marijuana,” Jackie previously said to Jane Pauley in 2008. “It was called crank then, but it’s now methamphetamines. Quaaludes were all over the place. Valium. And the drugs numbed all the other feelings. But it didn’t take away the issues that I had. They got bigger and bigger. I was more and more isolated from my mom’s world. And I thought running would solve all my problems.”
The two had a complicated relationship, especially with Jackie keeping far away from the spotlight. In 2014, Walters was asked how she wanted to be remembered she simply said, “I want to be remembered by my daughter as a good and loving mother.”
Final Marriage to Merv Adelson
Walter’s third and fourth husband was none other than CEO of Lorimar Television Merv Adelson. After meeting on a blind date, the pair wed in 1981, but due to their conflicting schedules around the world, they filed for divorce in 1984. They rekindled their relationship and got married again in 1986, but split up again in 1996.
20/20 Leading to the Big Leagues
For nearly thirty years, from 1979 to 2004, she was both the co-host and producer for the program 20/20, which was all about broadcast news. She started part-time in 1979, quickly becoming the staple co-host, per Biography. Because of this, she was named one of the highest paid news host in history with a reported $12 million yearly salary.
Time on ‘The View’
Back in 1997, Barbara Walters co-created and debuted as a co-host on The View, a daytime talk show with an all-female panel. She previously said she wanted to create a show with “different generations, backgrounds, and views.” She stayed on as co-host until she retired in 2014, making appearances here and there until she retired fully from the spotlight in 2015.
Decorated Journalism Career
Barbara Walters was nominated for over 20 Daytime Emmys throughout her career, winning three times total. She first won in 1975 for Outstanding Talk Show Host (Today), then in 2003 for Best Talk Show (The View), and again in 2009 for the View. Along with that, she won an NAACP Image Award in 2009 for her work on The View, a 1998 Lucy Award, and a 1991 Golden Plate Award.
She was also inducted into Television Hall of Fame in 1989, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007, along with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 2000.
Iconic ‘Barbara Walters Specials’
Speaking of interviews, Barbara Walters launched the first of a series of Barbara Walters Specials in 1976, interviewing people like Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel, and President Anwar Sadat of Egypt. She once said in reference to interviewing, “When you’re interviewing someone, you’re in control. When you’re being interviewed, you think you’re in control, but you’re not.”
She talked about all of her career milestones, lows, and the glimpses of her personal life in her 2008 memoir Audition: A Memoir.
Private, Private Life
Barbara Walters seemed to never stop working, with many not knowing what she liked to do for fun. However, she once gave insight to her self-care routine, including her undeniably sweet tooth. She once said, “A Hot Fudge Sundae and a trashy novel is my idea of heaven.”
A Long Life
On Dec 30, trailblazer and journalistic legend Barbara Walters passed away at the age of 93 in her Manhattan home.
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