R.I.P. Barbara Walters, trailblazing television journalist

November 23, 1963 – Barbara Walters, following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy

It didn’t take long for her to start breaking boundaries. In 1974, she was named the show’s first female co-host, winning her first Emmy award in 1975 for Outstanding Talk Show Host. It would be the first of three Emmy wins and 20 nominations.


In 1976, she became the first female news anchor to be offered a multi-million dollar contract, earning $5 million to co-anchor evening news and host interview specials on ABC. That year, she launched the first of her “Barbara Walters Specials,” interviewing Barbara Streisand. Her interviews catapulted Walters to fame, making her the target of lampooning on Saturday Night Live. Gilda Radner’s impression, the character “Baba Wawa,” mocked Walter’s speech impediment, which made pronouncing “Rs” difficult for the anchor.

“In the beginning, I really minded. I still do today when somebody someone says, ‘There’s Baba Wawa,’” she later said. “But I went into my daughter’s room, and she was up late watching it, and I came in to scold her. I said, ‘How can you watch this? Look what she’s doing,’” and she said, ‘Oh, mommy, where’s your sense of humor?’”


She spent the next three decades becoming America’s most famous interviewer. In 1980, she became co-host of 20/20 and, over the next 30 years, spoke to the most famous people in the world, including Monica Lewinsky, Vladimir Putin, Katharine Hepburn, and Christopher Reeve. Each interview was a cultural touchstone, attracting massive viewership numbers and elevating her notoriety.

Barbara Walters Interviews Monica Lewinsky

Walters co-created The View in 1997, creating a panel show that brings together “women of different generations, backgrounds, and views.” The all-female lineup consisted of Walters, journalist Meredith Vieira, lawyer Star Jones, television host Debbie Matenopoulos, and comedian Joy Behar. The View became a cultural institution that continues to make headlines and change the national conversation.


Walters stepped down from 20/20 in 2004, remaining a part-time contributor and on-air interviewer. She would continue to conduct special interviews, including one with former President Donald Trump and Melania in 2015.

Walters is survived by her daughter Jacqueline.