Barbara Walters, Pioneering American Journalist and Creator of The View, Dies at 93 |  CBC News

Barbara Walters, Pioneering American Journalist and Creator of The View, Dies at 93 | CBC News

Barbara Walters, the intrepid American interviewer, anchor and program host who led the way as the first woman to become a television news star during a network career notable for its length and diversity. She was 93.

Walters’ death was announced by ABC on Friday night’s broadcast, as well as by its publicist.

“Barbara Walters died peacefully in her home surrounded by loved ones. She lived her life without regret. She was a pioneer not only for women journalists, but for all women,” publicist Cindi Berger said in a statement.

An ABC spokesman had no immediate comment Friday night beyond a message from Bob Iger, chief executive of the Walt Disney Company, which owns ABC.

During nearly four decades at ABC and before that at NBC, Walters’ exclusive interviews with rulers, royalty and entertainers earned her a celebrity status to match, while also placing her at the forefront of a trend in broadcast journalism that was making stars of TV reporters and TV reporters . brought news programs into the race for higher ratings.

Walters made headlines in 1976 as the network’s first female news anchor, with an unprecedented US$1 million annual salary that drew gasps and criticism (while lost in the outcry were her other duties beyond news).

Her efforts were legendary as she competed—not only with rival networks, but with her own network colleagues—for every big “get” in a world filled with more and more interviewers, including female journalists who followed in her footsteps.

“I never expected this!” Walters said in 2004 when measuring her success. “I always thought I’d be a writer for television. I never thought I’d be in front of a camera.”

But she was a natural in front of the camera, especially when asking questions of acquaintances.

WATCH | George Stroumboulopoulos interviews Barbara Walters:

For more than four decades, she was the queen of the big TV talk shows.

“I’m not afraid when I’m doing an interview, I’m not afraid!” Walters told the Associated Press in 2008.

In a voice that never lost a trace of her native Boston accent or its Ws-for-R replacement, Walters asked blunt and sometimes dizzying questions about each topic, often overlaying them with a quiet, reverent delivery.

“Off screen, do you like it?” she once asked actor John Wayne, while Lady Bird Johnson was asked if she was jealous of her late husband’s reputation as a man.

The look was her career ‘dessert’

At the end of her career, in 1997, she gave infotainment a new dimension Viewlive ABC mundane kaffee klatsch with an all-female panel for which any topic was on the table and welcomed guests from world leaders to teen idols.

A side venture and an unexpected intervention, Walters thought View the “dessert” of her career.

People sitting on the sofa are seen on a daytime television talk show.
Walters, left, and other The View hosts are seen on set with then-US President Barack Obama in New York in July 2010. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

In May 2014, she filmed her last episode View amid many ceremonies and gatherings of dozens of personalities, ending a five-year television career (though she continued to make occasional television appearances thereafter).

During a commercial break, she was posed with the bevy of TV newswomen she paved the way for — including Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Robin Roberts and Connie Chung — for a group portrait.

“I have to remember this on the bad days,” Walters said quietly, “because this is the best.

Early obstacles

Her career began without such signs of grandeur.

In 1961, NBC hired her for a short-lived writing project on Ondaily show. Shortly thereafter, what was considered a slot for a token woman among the eight staff writers opened up, and Walters got the job.

Then she began making occasional on-air appearances with unusual stories such as “A Day in the Life of a Nun” or the ordeal of the Playboy Bunny. For the latter, she donned bunny ears and high heels to work at the Playboy Club.

A group of journalists surround the person they are questioning.
Walters interviews Cuban leader Fidel Castro in Havana in May 1975. (The Associated Press)

As Walters appeared more often, she was spared the title Today A girl who was attached to her symbolic ancestors. But she had to pay her dues and sometimes sprinted past her Today set to do dog food commercials between interviews.

She had the first interview with Rose Kennedy after the assassination of her son Robert, as well as Princess Grace of Monaco, President Richard Nixon and many others. She traveled to India with Jacqueline Kennedy, China with Nixon and Iran to cover the Shah’s gala parties.

But in 1971 it faced a setback with the arrival of new host Frank McGee. Although they could share a table, he insisted that she wait to ask him three questions before she could open her mouth during joint conversations with “powerful persons”.

“Millionaire Baby”

Sensing greater freedom and opportunity outside the studio, she hit the road and gave more exclusive interviews for the program, including Nixon’s Chief of Staff HR Haldeman.

In 1976, she was awarded the title Today co-host and earned $700,000 a year. But when ABC signed her to a five-year, $5 million contract, the salary number labeled her a “million-dollar baby.”

News of her deal did not note that her job duties would be split between the network’s entertainment division (for which she was expected to do interview specials) and ABC News, which is then languishing in third place. Meanwhile, Harry Reasoner, her seasoned ABC Evening News co-anchor, he reportedly resented her high salary and celebrity orientation.

News presenters are pictured at a table.
Walters is shown with her ABC Evening News co-founder Harry Reasoner in October 1976. (The Associated Press)

“Harry didn’t want a partner,” Walters summed up. “Even though he was horrible to me, I don’t think he disliked me.

It wasn’t just a shaky relationship with her co-founder that brought problems for Walters.

Comedian Gilda Radner satirized her in a new way Saturday night life as a rhotastic commentator named “Baba Wawa”.

And after her interview with President-elect Jimmy Carter, in which Walters told Carter to “be wise with us,” CBS correspondent Morley Safer publicly mocked her as “the first pope to bless a new cardinal.”

It was a period that seemed to mark the end of everything she had worked for, she later recalled.

“I thought it was over: ‘How stupid that I ever left NBC!'”

Two people shake hands.
Walters shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin in November 2001. (Michail Metzel/The Associated Press)

But salvation came in the form of a new boss, ABC News President Roone Arledge, who moved her from the co-founder slot to special projects for ABC News.

Meanwhile, she found success with her quarterly prime-time interview specials. She became a frequent contributor to the ABC news magazine 20/20, she joined forces with then-host Hugh Downs and became a co-host in 1984. Her consistent favorite was that year’s rating 10 most fascinating people.

Walters is survived by her only daughter, Jacqueline Danforth.


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