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Barbara Walters, trailblazing TV icon, dies at 93

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Barbara Walters, a pioneering television newscaster and longtime ABC news anchor and correspondent who broke the glass ceiling and became a dominant force in a once-male-dominated industry, has died. She was 93 years old.

Walters joined ABC News in 1976 and became the first female anchorman on an evening news show. Three years later she became the co-host of ’20/20′ and in 1997 she launched ‘The View’.

Bob Iger, CEO of ABC News’ parent company The Walt Disney Company, praised Walters for breaking down barriers.

“Barbara was a true legend, a pioneer not only of women in journalism, but of journalism itself. I had the pleasure of calling Barbara a colleague of over 30 years, but more importantly, a dear friend. “Everyone at The Walt Disney Company sends their deepest condolences to her daughter, Jacqueline, for her loss,” Iger said in a statement Friday.

In a career that spanned 50 years, Walters won 12 Emmy Awards, 11 of them while on ABC News.

She made her final appearance as co-host of “The View” in 2014, but remained as the show’s executive producer, continuing to do interviews and specials for ABC News.

“I don’t want to be on another show or climb another mountain,” she said at the time. And there are men.”

Barbara Jill Walters was born on September 25, 1929 in Boston to Dena and Louis “Lou” Walters. Her father discovered comedians Fred Allen and Jack Haley, working in her business as her agent and nightclub producer on the show. The two would later star as the Tin Man in the classic The Wizard of Oz.

Growing up around celebrities, young Barbara learned lessons she’s relied on throughout her career.

“I’ve seen them look one way on stage and often look very different off stage. I’ve heard my parents talk about them and I’ve seen that those performers are very special people.” However, he knew that they were also people with real problems. & science. “I can have respect and admiration for celebrities, but I have never been afraid or in awe.”

In her 2008 memoir Audition, Walters revealed that she got her ambitions for success from her older sister, Jacqueline, who was born with a developmental disability.

“Her condition changed my life as well,” Walters wrote. “I think I knew from an early age that Jackie would one day be in charge of me. That realization was one of the main things that drove me to work hard. But my feelings were It was beyond financial responsibility.

Broadcast journalist Barbara Walters looks at a film negative with an unidentified man backstage at NBC Studios in New York, circa 1966.

Roland Sherman/Getty Images

“Many of the needs I had to prove myself, achieve, serve and protect can be attributed to my feelings for Jackie. But there is something more than that.” It must be the ‘something’ that creates a need for excellence,” she added. “Some may call it ambition. I can take it. Some call it anxiety, but it’s a boring and common label like being called shy.” But in retrospect, my life has been a long audition, an attempt to make a difference and be accepted.”

After graduating from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York in the 1950s, Walters took a job as a publicist and television writer, appearing in 1961 as a writer on NBC’s “Today” show. He hosted in -1974 and won his first Emmy Award for Outstanding Talk Show Host the following year.

Photo: Today Show anchor Barbara Walters covers the 1972 Democratic National Convention.

Today show anchor Barbara Walters covers the 1972 Democratic National Convention.

NBCUniversal via Getty Images

“No one was more surprised than me,” she said of her on-air career. [and] I had a hard time pronouncing the r. “

Walters wrote in her memoirs that she was often described as dark-haired, pale, and thin. She said her parents’ term of endearment for her was “skinny marin kiddin’.”

In 1976, Walters found a new home on ABC’s “Evening News” and made history as the first female co-anchor of an evening news show.

Photo: Barbara Walters and Harry Riesner on the set of ABC News, September 30, 1976.

Barbara Walters and Harry Reasoner on the set of ABC News, September 30, 1976.

ABC News

On the October 4, 1976 inaugural broadcast, Walters, along with co-anchor Harry Riessner, recorded an exclusive interview with Earl Butts. Earl Butts has just resigned as President Gerald Ford’s secretary of agriculture, and it’s revealed that he made a racist joke. She also gave a satellite interview with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat about his plans to end the war with Lebanon.

Her interviews on ABC were extensive and her access to celebrities was unmatched. Walters crossed the Bay of Pigs with Fidel Castro for the first joint interview between Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. She also developed a reputation for asking tough questions.

“I asked Vladimir Putin if he ever ordered someone to be killed. “For the record, he said ‘no.'”

When Castro died in 2016, Walters released a statement that the dictator called two interviews with Castro a “hot debate.”

Photo: Barbara Walters interviews Cuban President Fidel Castro as he crosses the Bay of Pigs for an ABC News special aired on the ABC television network June 9, 1977.

Barbara Walters interviews Cuban President Fidel Castro as he crosses the Bay of Pigs for an ABC News special aired on the ABC television network on June 9, 1977.

ABC Photo Archive

“In our time together, he made it clear to me that he was an absolute dictator and a staunch opponent of democracy,” Walters said in a statement. I told him what makes it different is the meaning of freedom.”

There was also a light interview. For years, she hosted her annual Oscar special, interviewed Academy Award nominees, and was known to make many nominees reveal personal information or make them cry. . In 1994, she started a “Most Attractive People” special that aired each December, giving her the chance to chat with the top newsmakers of the year.

In 1999, an estimated 74 million viewers watched Walters interview Monica Lewinsky about the former White House intern’s relationship with then-President Bill Clinton. Towards the end of the interview, Walters asked Lewinsky, “What will you talk about when you have kids?” Lewinsky responded, “Mama made a big mistake,” to which Walters quipped, “That’s the understatement of the year.”

Photo: Barbara Walters interviews former President Ronald Reagan for ABC News

Barbara Walters interviewed former President Ronald Reagan for ABC News’ “20/20” at the Santa Barbara Ranch in 1981.

ABC Photo Archive

Walters has also interviewed every U.S. President and First Lady, from Nixon to Obama. She interviewed President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump before entering the White House.

With ‘The View’, she created a forum for women from different backgrounds and perspectives to come together and discuss the hottest topics in the news. This format has since been widely imitated by other networks.In her story in her New York Times magazine cover in May 2019, “The View” was described as “America’s most important political television show.” ” was considered.

Photo: original host

The original hosts of “The View” are, from left, Star Jones, Joy Behar, Meredith Vieira, Debbie Matenopoulos, and Barbara Walters.

Andrew Eccles/ABC

Walters has been married four times to three men (she was married twice to TV producer and real estate developer Marv Adelson), with her second husband, theater producer and owner Lee Guber, and daughter Jacqueline Guber. adopted the She wrote in her memoir, “I wanted Jackie to feel like she had kids too, because I knew by this time she would never have kids,” naming her after her sister. gave her name to her daughter.

“She keeps me sane and keeps me calm,” Walters said of her daughter. I think there is never a right answer, whatever you do is wrong, but whatever you do will be OK in the end.”

Photo: Barbara Walters with daughter Jackie Danforth, April 18, 2008.

Barbara Walters and daughter Jackie Danforth on April 18, 2008.

Donna Svenevik/Walt Disney Television

She was honored for her caricature wax portrait at Madame Tussauds in New York City in 2001 and was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007.

He has also received honorary doctorates from his alma mater Sarah Lawrence College, Ohio State University, Temple University, Marymount College, Wheaton College, Hofstra University, and Ben-Gurion University, Jerusalem.

After 25 years on television, he was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1989, receiving the award from Peter Jennings, then anchor and senior editor of ABC’s World News Tonight.

Photo: Television presenters Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters arrive at the Television Hall of Fame Awards in Century City, Calif., January 7, 1990.

Television presenters Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters arrive at the Television Hall of Fame induction ceremony on January 7, 1990 in Century City, California.

Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images

Jennings, who died in 2005, said, “In all those years of Barbara’s coverage of the world, those of us who followed in her footsteps were the first to set the bar and to do something for us.” He taught me, so I was doing well,” he said. he said at the time.

In 2000, Oprah Winfrey presented Walters with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, similar to Jennings’ speech. “If it wasn’t for Barbara Walters, every other woman who followed in her footsteps, including myself, wouldn’t be where we stand and what we do in this industry today. was not able to

In her acceptance speech, Walters said, “I have been blessed with a life I never expected, and over the years it has been the hundreds of people who have helped me climb the steps of the ladder.” .

Photo: Disney and ABC Television executives and ABC News anchors join Barbara Walters as New York's ABC News headquarters is declared the Barbara Walters Building on May 12, 2014.

Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company. Anne Sweeney, Co-Chair of Disney Media Networks and President of Disney/ABC Television Group. ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer. Barbara Walters; ABC News anchor David Muir, “Good Morning America” ​​anchor Robin Roberts, and when ABC News headquarters in New York was declared the Barbara Walters Building on May 12, 2014 ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos attends the dedication ceremony.

Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

Part of the ABC News headquarters in New York was renamed the “Barbara Walters Building” in May 2014. It’s not an interview with a president, head of state, or celebrity. ”

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