Barbara Walters was Born …:
… on September 25, 1929, in Boston. Her father was an immigrant from London, England, and worked in the theater as a booking agent and Broadway producer.
Growing up with Barbara:
Always surrounded by celebrities, due to her father’s career in show business, Barbara lost her ability to be “star struck” early on, which she attributes to her ability to interview A-list celebrities and powerful political figures.
Barbara’s father fell on hard times and the family lost much during those times. Walters’ mother kept the family together mentally.
She attended Fieldston and Birch Wathen private schools in New York before graduating from Miami Beach High School. She attended Sarah Lawrence College in New York and graduated with a degree in English.
Barbara’s First Job:
She was a publicist before her news career took off like a rocket. Her first news job was with CBS News as a writer, which led to success with The Today Show. Because of her news background, Walters could almost be attributed with changing the morning program from one that churned out fluff pieces delivered by celebrities and ex-sports stars, to one of good journalism and great news.
The Early Years:
Barbara was the first female co-host of The Today Show, in no small part because of her excellent journalism skills. This led to her well-known stint on ABC’s 20/20, which she co-hosted with Hugh Downs for many years.
She quickly became famous for her celebrity interviews, often scoring some of the biggest names in show business and pop culture. Her most-watched interview to date is with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky after her affair with then-President William Clinton. She has also interviewed Boris Yeltsin, former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Fidel Castro, and many more.
Becoming a Talk Show Host:
In 1997, Barbara co-created The View with Bill Geddie and Jessica Guff, as a program for women from different backgrounds and perspectives. She often co-hosts the program, which features three other hosts: Rosie O’Donnell, Joy Behar and Elisabeth Hasselbeck, as of early 2007.
What Does the Future Hold?:
In September 2009, Barbara will turn 80 years old, which is hard to believe. So to say that the future suggests a comfortable retirement is probably the wrong sentiment. More work, more play, more reporting the news – that’s more in line for our Ms. Walters.
And Just for Fun:
- Was the first female co-host of The Today Show.
- Overcame a slight speech impediment, which is often mimicked for comedic effect, perhaps most famously by Gilda Radner’s “Babwa Wawa”.
- Infamously known for this question, posed to Katherine Hepburn: “If you were a tree, what kind would you be?” But the question was never posed – exactly. Hepburn said during an interview that she wanted to be a tree, to which Barbara asked, “What kind?”
- Barbara has been married three times.
- In 1977, conducted the first joint interview of Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Bagin.
- She was the first female news anchor on national U.S. television, and possibly the first news anchor to make more than $1 million a year.