Barbara Walters, one of the most visible women on American television, the first female anchor on American evening newscasts and one of TV’s most prominent interviewers, died Friday at the age of 93, her longtime ABC News Home said.
Walters, who created the popular ABC women’s talk show Scene He died at his home in New York in 1997, Robert Iger, chief executive of ABC’s corporate parent, The Walt Disney Company, said on Twitter. The circumstances of his death were not given.
In a broadcasting career spanning five decades, Walters has interviewed world leaders including Cuba’s Fidel Castro, Britain’s Margaret Thatcher, Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi, Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein, Russian presidents Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin, and every US president and first lady. Interviewed a series of. Since Richard and Pat Nixon.
“I never thought I’d have a life like this,” Walters said in 2004. Chicago Tribune interview. “I’ve met everybody in the world. I’ve probably met more people, more heads of state, more important people, than even almost any president since he’s only had eight years.”
Walters’ critics noted that she too often asked softball questions and that she longed for a 1981 interview in which she asked Hollywood actress Katharine Hepburn what kind of tree she wanted to be.
Walters explained that she only asked because Hepburn had previously compared herself to a tree.
She also knew how to ask the tough questions.
Walters said, “I asked Yeltsin if he drank too much, and I asked Putin if he had killed anybody.” new York Times In 2013, both answered in the negative.
Celebrity interviews were also an important part of Walters’ repertoire, and for 29 years he hosted a pre-Oscar interview program featuring Academy Award nominees. She also had an annual “Most Fascinating People” show, but dropped it when she decided she was tired of celebrity interviews.
Walters rose to the top of her field despite difficulty pronouncing R’s – a trait that made her the target of a biting “Bawa Wawa” impersonation by Gilda Radner. saturday night live sketch comedy show in the 1970s. Walters said the joke bothered her, until her daughter told her to lighten up.
Walters was born in Boston. Her father, Lou Walters, was the owner of the Latin Quarter nightclub in New York.
After graduating from Sarah Lawrence College, she worked in public relations before joining NBC. today show in 1961 as a writer and segment producer. She began getting air time with feature stories – such as a report on her one-day stint as a Playboy bunny – and became a regular on the programme.
It was then that he faced resistance. “Today” show host Frank McGee resented her appearance and tried to limit her role on the show.
13 years later todayIn 1976, Walters was given an unprecedented $1 million annual salary, moving to rival network ABC and making history as the first female co-anchor on an American evening newscast. His reluctant partner, Harry Reisner, made clear his disdain for Walters, even when he was on the air.
Walters said, “Both of these men were really brutal to me and it was not pleasant.” san francisco examiner, “For a long time, I couldn’t talk about that time without tears in my eyes. It was so awful walking into that studio every day with no one talking to me.”
after she is sad ABC Evening News After it ended in 1978, Walters established herself as the network’s prime-time newsmagazine show. 20/20 and remained with the program for 25 years. being interviewed by walters 20/20 Or many of his special qualities became for his subjects – and guaranteed risk.
In 1977, he had a joint interview with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin before making peace.
Walters became so prominent that his star quality sometimes overshadowed those he was interrogating. new York Times called her “arguably America’s most famous television personality”, but also observed that “what we remember most about Barbara Walters’ interview is Barbara Walters.”
Critics sometimes found her charming, but she could also be blunt, as when asking Martha Stewart, the lifestyle guru who was jailed in an insider-stock-trading case, “Martha, so many people hate you.” Why do?”
In 1997, Walters started Scene on ABC, a popular roundtable discussion show for women that was sometimes marred by controversy with its co-hosts Starr Jones and Rosie O’Donnell. She stepped down in 2014 when she began limiting her television work to special occasions.
Three of Walters’ marriages – to businessman Robert Katz, to theatrical producer Lee Guber and to television executive Merv Adelson – ended in divorce. She also had high-profile boyfriends such as Alan Greenspan, former head of the Federal Reserve, and John Warner, who later became a senator from Virginia.
His love life made headlines in 2008 when his autobiography, Audition: A MemoirRevealed an affair with the then-married Edward Brooke of Massachusetts, the first black senator since Civil War Reconstruction.
Walters underwent heart surgery in 2010, which provided material for an ABC special in which she and former President Bill Clinton, actor Robin Williams and other high-profile heart surgery patients discussed their conditions.
The network said it earned 12 Emmy Awards, 11 of which were at ABC News.