- Category : TV - Personality
- Type : GP
- Profile : 4/1 - Opportunistic / Investigator
- Definition : Split - Small (10,33,34)
- Incarnation Cross : JX Serendipity
Barbara Jill Walters (born September 25, 1929) is an American broadcast journalist, author, and television personality. She has hosted morning television shows Today and The View, the television news magazine 20/20, co-anchored the ABC Evening News, and is a contributor to ABC News.
Walters was first known as a popular television morning news anchor for over 10 years on the NBC News program Today, where she worked with Hugh Downs and later hosts Frank McGee and Jim Hartz. She was the first female co-anchor of network evening news, working with Harry Reasoner on ABC News flagship program ABC Evening News. Walters later spent 25 years as co-host of the ABC newsmagazine 20/20. Since 1976, she has continually contributed as an anchor, reporter, and correspondent for ABC News.
In 1996, Walters was ranked #34 on the TV Guide "50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time."
Walters was born in 1929 in Boston to Dena (née Seletsky) and Louis "Lou" Walters (born Louis Warmwater). Her parents were both Jewish, and descendants of refugees from the former Russian Empire, now Eastern Europe. Walters' paternal grandfather, Abraham Isaac, was from what is now ?ód?, Poland, and first immigrated to England, changing his name first to Warmwater and later to Abraham Walters (the original family surname was Waremwasser). Walters' father was born there c. 1894, and moved to the United States with his family in 1900. In 1949, her father opened the New York version of the Latin Quarter; he also worked as a Broadway producer (he produced the Ziegfeld Follies of 1943). He also was the Entertainment Director for the Tropicana Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he imported the "Folies Bergere" stage show from Paris to the resort's main showroom. Walters' brother, Burton, died in 1944 of pneumonia. Walters' elder sister, Jacqueline, was born mentally disabled and died of ovarian cancer in 1985.
According to Walters, being surrounded by celebrities when she was young kept her from being "in awe" of them. When she was a young woman, Walters' father lost his nightclubs and the family's penthouse on Central Park West. As Walters recalled, "He had a breakdown. He went down to live in our house in Florida, and then the Government took the house, and they took the car, and they took the furniture." Of her mother, she said, "My mother should have married the way her friends did, to a man who was a doctor or who was in the dress business."
After attending Ethical Culture Fieldston School and Birch Wathen Lenox School, private schools in New York City, Walters graduated from Miami Beach High School in 1947. In 1953 she received a B.A. in English from Sarah Lawrence College.
Career and accolades
After a brief period as a publicist with Tex McCrary Inc. and a job as a writer at CBS News, Walters joined NBC's The Today Show as a writer and researcher in 1964. She moved up to become that show's regular "Today Girl", handling lighter assignments and the weather. In her autobiography, she describes this era before the Women's Movement as a time when it was believed that nobody would take a woman seriously reporting "hard news". Previous "Today Girls" (whom Walters called "tea pourers") included Florence Henderson, Helen O'Connell, Estelle Parsons and Lee Meriwether. Within a year she had become a reporter-at-large developing, writing, and editing her own reports and interviews. When Frank McGee was named host, he refused to do joint interviews with Walters unless he was given the first four questions. She was not named co-host of the show until McGee's death in 1974, when NBC officially designated Walters as the program's first female co-host.
Walters has seldom minced words when describing the visible, on-the-air disdain her co-anchor, Harry Reasoner displayed for her when she was teamed up with him on the ABC Evening News in 1976–78. Reasoner had a difficult relationship with Walters because he disliked having a co-anchor, even though he worked with former CBS colleague Howard K. Smith nightly on ABC for several years. In 1981, five years after the start of their short-lived ABC partnership and well after Reasoner returned to CBS News, Walters and her former co-anchor had a memorable (and cordial) 20/20 interview on the occasion of Reasoner's new book release.
Walters is also known for her years on the ABC newsmagazine 20/20 where she reunited with former Today Show host Hugh Downs in 1979. Throughout her career at ABC, Walters has appeared on ABC news specials as a commentator, including presidential inaugurations and the coverage of 9/11. She was also chosen to be the moderator for the third and final debate between candidates Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, held on the campus of the College of William and Mary at Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall in Williamsburg, Virginia, during the 1976 Presidential Election. In 1984, she moderated a Presidential debate held at the Dana Center for the Humanities at Saint Anselm College in Goffstown, New Hampshire. Many of her regular and special programs are syndicated around the world. As of 2004, she is in semi-retirement as a broadcast journalist, but remains a correspondent for ABC News as well as a host of ABC's special programs.
On June 14, 2007, Walters received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She has won Daytime and Prime Time Emmy Awards, a Women in Film Lucy Award, and a GLAAD Excellence in Media award. Her impact on the popular culture is illustrated by Gilda Radner's "Baba Wawa" impersonation of her on Saturday Night Live, featuring her idiosyncratic speech with its rounded "R". In 2008, she was honored with the Disney Legends award, an award given to those who made an outstanding contribution to The Walt Disney Company, which owns the network ABC. That same year, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the New York Women's Agenda. On September 21, 2009, Walters was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 30th Annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards at New York City's Lincoln Center.
On March 7, 2010, Barbara Walters announced she would no longer hold Oscar interviews, but will still be working with ABC and on her show, The View.
In a November 2010 episode of The View, while interviewing Larry King on his retirement from CNN, Walters alluded to her impending retirement, stating, "I know when my time's coming."
Walters is known for "personality journalism" and her "scoop" interviews. In November 1977, she achieved a joint interview with Egypt's President, Anwar Al Sadat, and Israel's Prime Minister, Menachem Begin. Her interviews with world leaders from all walks of life are a chronicle of the latter part of the 20th century. They include the Shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his wife the Empress Farah Pahlavi; Russia's Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin; China's Jiang Zemin; the UK's Margaret Thatcher; Cuba's Fidel Castro, as well as India's Indira Gandhi, Czechoslovakia's Václav Havel, Libya's Muammar al-Gaddafi, King Hussein of Jordan, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad among many others. Other interviews with influential people include pop icon Michael Jackson, Katharine Hepburn, Anna Wintour, and in 1980 Laurence Olivier. Walters considered Robert Smithdas, a deaf-blind man who spent his life improving the life of other individuals who are deaf-blind, as her most inspirational interview.
Walters was widely lampooned in 1981 (and often since) for having posed the question, during an interview with actress Katharine Hepburn: "If you were a tree, what kind would you be?" But as she has often pointed out (and the video clips confirm) Hepburn initiated the discussion by saying that she would like to be a tree, and Walters merely followed up with the question, "What kind of a tree?"
During a story about Cuban leader Fidel Castro, Walters claimed that "for Castro, freedom begins with education." Some critics who point to her characterization of Castro as freedom-loving and argue that it painted an inaccurate picture of his government.
On March 3, 1999, her interview of Monica Lewinsky was seen by a record 74 million viewers, the highest rating ever for a journalist's interview. Walters asked Lewinsky, "What will you tell your children when you have them?" and Lewinsky replied, "Mommy made a big mistake," at which point Walters brought the program to a dramatic conclusion, turning to the viewers, saying, "And that is the understatement of the year."
Walters is a part-time host of the daytime talk show The View, of which she is also co-creator and co-executive producer with her business partner Bill Geddie. Walters described the show in its original opening credits as a forum for women of "different generations, backgrounds, and views." She added, "Be careful what you wish for..." The show's current co-hosts are Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Sherri Shepherd. Previous co-hosts include Meredith Vieira (1997 - 2006), Star Jones (1997 - 2006), Lisa Ling (1999 - 2002), Rosie O'Donnell (2006 - 2007), and Debbie Matenopoulos (1997 - 1999).
In 2007, Barbara defended co-host O'Donnell about remarks the latter made against Donald Trump and the winner of the Miss USA pageant. Trump firmly responded by saying, "Barbara is off the list..."
In June 2005 several hundred women gathered in front of "The View" studios in New York to protest negative remarks made on air by Walters about breastfeeding in public. Walters said a woman was breastfeeding without a cover near her on a plane and that made her feel uncomfortable. Walters then denied she was opposed to breastfeeding in public, saying she was only referring to other people's comfort level, not her own. This only resulted in more public criticism - talk show host Jimmy Kimmel aired a clip with her original remarks and then her follow-up remarks, and said "now she's a misogynist '*and*' a liar."
Walters has been married four times to three different men. "I'm convinced that you stay married when the sex is bad, only because you really want to be," she told The New York Times in 1996. "But I always had an out. I had this job, and this life and enough money. I didn't have to fight the bad days." Her husbands were:
Robert Henry Katz, a business executive and former Navy lieutenant. They married on June 20, 1955, at The Plaza Hotel in New York City. The marriage was reportedly annulled after 11 months, or in 1957. Lee Guber, theatrical producer and theater owner. They married on December 8, 1963, and divorced in 1976. They have one daughter, Jacqueline Dena Guber (born 1968, adopted the same year).
Merv Adelson, the CEO of Lorimar Television. They married in 1981, divorced in 1984, remarried on May 10, 1986, and divorced again in 1992.
She dated gay lawyer Roy Cohn in college, and the lawyer said that he proposed marriage to Walters the night before her wedding to Lee Guber, but Walters denied this. She explained her lifelong devotion to Cohn as gratitude for his help in her adoption of her daughter, Jacqueline. In her autobiography, Walters says that Cohn got her father's warrant for "failure to appear" dismissed.
Walters dated future U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan in the 1970s and was linked romantically to United States Senator John Warner in the 1990s.
In Walters' 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. 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.
On July 9, 2010, it was announced that Walters would return to The View and her Sirius XM satellite show Here's Barbara in September 2010.
Walters has been close friends with Fox News head Roger Ailes since the late 1960s.
In the late 1960s, Walters wrote a magazine article, "How to Talk to Practically Anyone About Practically Anything", which drew upon the kinds of things people said to her, which were often mistakes. Shortly after the article appeared, she received a letter from Doubleday expressing interest in expanding it into a book. Walters felt that it would help "tongue-tied, socially awkward people — the many people who worry that they can't think of the right thing to say to start a conversation." She published the book in 1970, with the assistance of ghostwriter June Callwood. To Walters' great surprise, the book was a phenomenon. As of 2008, it had gone through eight printings, sold hundreds of thousands of copies worldwide, and been translated into at least six different languages.
In 2008, she published her autobiography, Audition: A Memoir.
Books about Barbara Walters Seen and Heard: The Women of Television News, Nichola D. Gutgold. (Lexington Books, 2008)