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Walters, Barbara 1931–

WALTERS, Barbara 1931

PERSONAL

Full name, Barbara Ann Walters; born September 25, 1931, in Boston, MA; daughter of Lou (a nightclub operator and theatrical producer) and Dena (maiden name, Selett) Walters; first marriage annulled; married Lee Guber (a theatrical producer), December 8, 1963 (divorced, 1976); married Merv Adelson (a television production executive), May 10, 1986 (divorced); children: (second marriage) Jacqueline Dena. Education: Sarah Lawrence College, B.A., English, 1953.


Addresses: Office c/o 20/20, 147 Columbus Ave., 10th Floor, New York, NY 10023; Barbara Walters Specials, Barwall Productions, 825 Seventh Ave., 3rd Floor, New York, NY 100196014. Publicist Cindi Berger, PMK/HBH, New York, 650 Fifth Ave., 33rd Floor, New York, NY 10019. Agent The Harry Walker Agency Inc., 355 Lexington Ave., 21st Floor, New York, NY 10017.


Career: Broadcast journalist and writer. Worked as a writer and producer for WNBCTV, WPIX, and CBSTV.


Member: National Association for Help for Mentally Retarded Children (honorary chairperson, 1970).


Awards, Honors: Named among One Hundred Women of Accomplishment, Harper's Bazaar, 1967 and 1971; named one of America's SeventyFive Most Important Women, Ladies' Home Journal, 1970; Emmy Award nomination, best host or hostess of a talk, service, or variety series, 1974, for Not for Women Only; named Woman of the Year in Communications, 1974; named one of Two Hundred Leaders of the Future, Time, 1974; honorary L.H.D. degrees from Ohio State University and Marymount College, Tarrytown, NY, both 1975; Award of the Year, National Association of Television Program Executives, 1975; Emmy Award, best host or hostess of a talk, service, or variety series, 1975, for The Today Show; Mass Media Award, Institute for Human Relations, American Jewish Committee, 1975; Illinois Broadcasters Association established the Barbara Walters College Scholarship in Broadcast Journalism, 1975; named Woman of the Year, Theta Sigma Phi, and Broadcaster of the Year, International Radio and Television Society, 1975; Gold Medal, National Institute of Social Sciences, 1976; Matrix Award, New York Women in Communications, 1977; Lowell Thomas Award, International Platform Association, 1977; Hubert H. Humphrey Freedom Prize, AntiDefamation League, B'nai B'rith, 1978; named one of the Ten Women of the Decade, Ladies' Home Journal, 1979; named one of the Most Important Women of 1979, Roper Report, 1979; Emmy Award, best news program segment, and Emmy Award (with others), best news and documentary programs and program segments, both 1980, for ABC News Nightline; Emmy Awards, best interviewer, 1982 and 1983, and Emmy Award nominations, best informational series, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1988, all for The Barbara Walters Special; named one of the Women Most Admired by the American People, Gallup Poll, 1982, 1984; honorary L.H.D. degree, Wheaton College, 1983; named one of America's One Hundred Most Important Women, Ladies' Home Journal, 1983; Emmy Award, best interviewer, 1983, Emmy Award nomination, best interview segment, 1984, Emmy Award nomination, best background/analysis of a single current story, 1987, and Emmy Award, best interview segment, 1988, all for 20/20; President's Award, Overseas Press Club of America, 1988; Lowell Thomas Award, Marist College, 1990; elected to Hall of Fame, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, 1990; Lifetime Achievement Award, International Women's Media Foundation, 1992; honored by the American Museum of the Moving Image, 1992; honored by Museum of Television and Radio, contributions to broadcast journalism, 1996; Excellence in Media Award, GLAAD Media Awards, 1996; Distinguished Service Award, National Association of Broadcasters, 1997; Lucy Award, Women in Film Lucy Awards, 1998; Daytime Emmy Award nominations (with others), outstanding talk show host and outstanding talk show, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003, Daytime Emmy Award (with others), outstanding talk show, 2003, for The View; Daytime Emmy Award, lifetime achievement, 2000.

CREDITS

Television Appearances; Series:

Regular correspondent, The Today Show (also known as The Rise and Shine Review ), NBC, 19631974.

Coanchor, The Today Show (also known as The Rise and Shine Review ), NBC, 19741976.

Moderator, Not for Women Only, syndicated, 19741976.

Coanchor, The ABC News with Harry Reasoner and Barbara Walters (now ABC World News Tonight ), ABC, 19761978.

Correspondent, 20/20, ABC, 19811984.

Coanchor, 20/20, ABC, 1984.

Substitute anchor, ABC News Nightline (also known as Nightline ), ABC, 1991.

Anchor, Turning Point, ABC, 1994.

Cohost, The View, ABC, 1997.

ABC News Saturday Night, ABC, 1998.

America.01, ABC, 2001.

Television Appearances; Specials:

Host, The Barbara Walters Special, ABC, 1976, 1985.

The Television Annual: 1978/1979, 1979.

AllStar Celebration Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., NBC, 1986.

Host, Liberty Weekend Preview, ABC, 1986.

Host, Life: Fifty Years (also known as The 50th Anniversary of Life Magazine ), ABC, 1986.

Commentator, Liberty Weekend, ABC, 1986.

Today at 35, NBC, 1987.

A StarSpangled Celebration, ABC, 1987.

Sesame Street Special, PBS, 1988.

Host, The 50th Barbara Walters Special, ABC, 1988.

Anchor, America's Kids: Why They Flunk (also known as Burning Questions ), ABC, 1988.

Regis & Kathie Lee: Special Edition, 1988.

Fifty Years of Celebration: A Golden Celebration, CBS, 1989.

Reporter, Presidential Inauguration, ABC, 1989.

Anchor, Survival Stories: Growing Up Down and Out (also known as Kids in Trouble: Fighting Back ), ABC, 1989.

America's Kids: Teaching Them to Think (also known as Burning Questions ), ABC, 1989.

The 6th Annual Television Academy Hall of Fame, Fox, 1990.

Night of 100 Stars III, NBC, 1990.

Fifteen Years of MacNeil/Lehrer, PBS, 1990.

Presenter, The 48th Alfred I. DupontColumbia University Awards, PBS, 1990.

Anchor, The Perfect Baby, ABC, 1990.

Edward R. Murrow: This Reporter (documentary), PBS, 1990.

The Best of Disney: 50 Years of Magic, ABC, 1991.

Host, The Best of Barbara Walters: LegendThe New Generation, ABC, 1992.

Donahue: The 25th Anniversary, NBC, 1992.

Host, Twentysomething: What Happened to the American Dream?, ABC, 1992.

Today at 40, NBC, 1992.

Legend to Legend Night, NBC, 1993.

Kathie Lee Gifford's Celebration of Motherhood, ABC, 1993.

The 12 Most Fascinating People of 1993, ABC, 1993.

Narrator, In a New Light '93, ABC, 1993.

Host, What Is This Thing Called Love? The Barbara Walters Special, ABC, 1993.

Host, One on One: Classic Television Interviews, CBS, 1993.

Host, Great Television Moments: What We Watched, ABC, 1993.

Host, 20/20 15th Anniversary Special, ABC, 1993.

Switched at Birth: Kimberly's Story, ABC, 1993.

Segment host, "Watching History Happen," ABC's 40th Anniversary Special, ABC, 1994.

Presenter, The Essence Awards, Fox, 1994.

Host, "25/25," Sesame Street's AllStar 25th Birthday: Stars and Street Forever!, ABC, 1994.

Host, In a New Light '94, ABC, 1994.

Host, The Barbara Walters Special: Happy Hour, ABC, 1994.

Barbara Walters Presents the 10 Most Fascinating People of 1994, ABC, 1994.

The 10th Annual Television Academy Hall of Fame, ABC, 1994.

Anchor, Whiz Kids, ABC, 1995.

Host, Princess Diana: The Interview, ABC, 1995.

Into the Jury's Hands, ABC, 1995.

Inside the Hate Conspiracy: America's Terrorists, ABC, 1995.

Introduction, In a New Light: Sex Unplugged, ABC, 1995.

Narrator, Happily Ever After?, The Discovery Channel, 1995.

Host, Barbara Walters Presents the 10 Most Fascinating People of 1995, ABC, 1995.

Sex, Drugs and Consequences, ABC, 1996.

Race for a Miracle: The Brad and Vicki Margus Story, ABC, 1996.

Host, The Kennedy Center 25th Anniversary Celebration, PBS, 1996.

Barbara Walters: 20 Years at ABC, ABC, 1996.

Host, Barbara Walters Presents the 10 Most Fascinating People of 1996, ABC, 1996.

Interviewee, Mike Wallace Remembers, CBS, 1997.

Host, Men Are from Mars, Women are from VenusBut We Have to Live on Earth, ABC, 1997.

Hollywood and the News, ABC, 1997.

Barbara Walters Presents 6 to Watch, ABC, 1997, 1998.

Host, Barbara Walters Presents the 10 Most Fascinating People of 1997, ABC, 1997.

Host, Barbara Walters Presents the 10 Most Fascinating People of 1998, ABC, 1998.

Academy of Television Arts & Sciences 13th Annual Hall of Fame, Showtime, 1998.

Presenter, The 25th Daytime Emmy Awards, NBC, 1998.

Interviewee, Monica: The Untold Story, E! Entertainment Television, 1999.

Interviewee, Intimate Portrait: Star Jones, Lifetime, 1999.

Host, A Celebration: 100 Years of Great Women with Barbara Walters, ABC, 1999.

Host, Barbara Walters Presents the 10 Most Fascinating People of 1999, ABC, 1999.

Interviewee, Ann Landers: America's Confidante, Arts and Entertainment, 1999.

ABC 2000, ABC, 1999.

Presenter, The 26th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, CBS, 1999.

Super Bowl XXXIV, ABC, 2000.

Interviewee, Barbara Walters: A Driving Force, Arts and Entertainment, 2000.

The 27th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, ABC, 2000.

Interviewee, The Nightclub Years, Arts and Entertainment, 2001.

Interviewee, Intimate Portrait: Liz Smith, Lifetime, 2001.

I Love Lucy50th Anniversary Spcial, CBS, 2001.

Breaking the News, CBS, 2001.

Interviewee, Born in My Heart: A Love Story, ABC, 2001.

Presenter, The 28th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, NBC, 2001.

NBC 75th Anniversary Special (also known as NBC 75th Anniversary Celebration ), NBC, 2002.

Gilda Radner's Greatest Moments, ABC, 2002.

Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2002, ABC, 2002.

After Party at "The View, " ABC, 2002.

The View: His & Her Body Test, ABC, 2003.

Interviewee, Intimate Portrait: Christiane Amanpour, Lifetime, 2003.

Host, Hillary Clinton's Journey: Public, Private, Personal with Barbara Walters, ABC, 2003.

Presenter, ABC 50th Anniversary Celebration, ABC, 2003.

Presenter, The 57th Annual Tony Awards, CBS, 2003.

Presenter, The 30th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, ABC, 2003.

Host, 20/20: Living with Michael Jackson, ABC, 2003.

Interviewee, 100 Years of Hope and Humor, NBC, 2003.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

Sesame Street, PBS, 1969.

Mrs. Frazier, "For the Love of Bert," Maude, 1975.

"Edward R. Murrow: This Reporter," American Masters, PBS, 1990.

Host, "Switched at Birth: Kimberly's Story," Turning Point, ABC, 1993.

Late Show with David Letterman, CBS, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003.

Guest host, The Rosie O'Donnell Show, 2001.

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NBC, 2003.

Also appeared in episodes of Issues and Answers, ABC.

Television Work; Series:

Coexecutive producer, The View, ABC, 1997.

Executive producer, Iyanla, NBC, 2001.

Television Executive Producer; Specials:

The Barbara Walters Special, ABC, 19921993, 2001.

Born In My Heart: A Love Story (documentary), ABC, 2001.

Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2002, ABC, 2002.

The View: His & Her Body Test, 2003.

Radio Appearances:

Moderator of the radio programs Emphasis and Monitor; and hosted popular series Not for Women Only, NBC radio.

Stage Appearances:

Night of 100 Stars III, Radio City Music Hall, New York City, 1990.

Film Appearances:

Bank teller, Crazy Mama, 1975.

Spinster I, Goin' South, 1978.

(As Barbara Ann Walters) Cafeteria lady, Rock 'n' Roll High School, 1979.

In God We Tru$t (also known as Gimme That Prime Time Religion ), 1980.

The Line King: Al Hirschfeld (also known as The Line King ), 1996.

WRITINGS

Television Specials:

The Perfect Baby, ABC, 1990.

The Barbara Walters Special, ABC, 1990.

The Best of Barbara Walters: LegendThe New Generation, ABC, 1992.

What Is This Thing Called Love? The Barbara Walters Special, ABC, 1993.

20/20 15th Anniversary Special, ABC, 1993.

The Barbara Walters Special: Happy Hour, ABC, 1994.

Barbara Walters: 20 Years at ABC, ABC, 1996.

Barbara Walters Presents: 6 to Watch, ABC, 1997.

Hillary Clinton's Journey: Public, Private, Personal with Barbara Walters, 2003.

Writer for Issues and Answers, ABC.

Television Series:

The Today Show (also known as The Rise and Shine Review ), NBC, 19611963.

Books:

How to Talk with Practically Anybody about Practically Anything, Doubleday, 1970.

Interview Given by CommanderinChief Fidel Castro to the American Journalist Barbara Walters, Oficina de Publicaciones del Consejo de Estado, 1978.

Barbara Walters Best Interviews, Meredith Corp., 1994.


Contributor to periodicals, including Family Weekly, Good Housekeeping, and Reader's Digest.

OTHER SOURCES

Periodicals:

Entertainment Weekly, March 19, 1999, pp. 8182.

George, November, 1997, pp. 108113, 142, 144.

Ladies' Home Journal, April, 1996, p. 128.

Life, February 18, 1966, pp. 4950, 52; November 18, 1997, p. 36.

Nation, December 15, 1997, p. 36.

Newsweek, May 6, 1974; May 3, 1976; October 11, 1976.

New York Times, May 2, 1976; August 23, 1992.

People Weekly, June 21, 1982; May 26, 1986.

Time, May 3, 1976; October 18, 1976.

TV Guide, January 2, 1999, pp. 1219.

Washington Star, April 23, 1976.

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Walters, Barbara

Barbara Walters

Born: September 25, 1931
Boston, Massachusetts

American newscaster and reporter

Drawing the highest pay in the history of television broadcasting at the time, Barbara Walters became the first woman coanchor of a network evening newscast. She developed to a high art the interviewing of public figures.

Early life

Barbara Walters was born to Dena (Selett) and Lou Walters on September 25, 1931, in Boston, Massachusetts. Her only brother, Burton, had died of pneumonia before Barbara was born, and her sister, Jacqueline, was born mentally handicapped. Her father operated a number of nightclubs, resulting in Barbara attending schools in Boston, New York City, and Miami Beach, Florida. Because of this lifestyle, Walters grew up a lonely and shy child and was especially close to her only playmate and sister, Jacqueline.

Walters earned a bachelor's degree in English from Sarah Lawrence College in 1954. After working briefly as a secretary she landed a job with the National Broadcasting Company's (NBC) New York affiliate WRCA-TV where she quickly rose to producer and writer. She also held various writing and public relations jobs, including a stint as a women's program producer at WPIX-TV in New York City.

Walters's abilities and experience in research, writing, filming, and editing earned her a job as news and public affairs producer for Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) television. There she wrote materials for noted personalities who appeared on the CBS morning show that competed with NBC's Today program. She left CBS because she believed further advancement was unlikely.

Moving in front of the camera

In 1961 Walters was hired by NBC as a writer with an occasional on-the-air feature for the Today show. Within three years Walters became an on-camera interviewer and persuaded such notables as Mamie Eisenhower (18961979), Anwar Sadat (19181981), and H. R. Haldeman (19261993) to appear with her.

Meanwhile, a number of different "show business" women held the post as the " Today girl," but none had a journalism background. Mainly they engaged in small talk and read commercials. Some at NBC began to think a different kind of woman might help the show. When the spot was unexpectedly opened, Walters was given the " Today girl" slot on a trial basis. The public readily accepted this bright, on-the-air newswoman, who also continued to write and produce much of her own material. A few months later, Hugh Downs (1921) said Walters was the best thing that had happened to the Today show during his time as host. They would later be teamed on ABC's program 20/20 as competition to CBS's Sixty Minutes.

Today featured stories by Walters that included socially significant topics, and frequently she got on-the-spot experience which gave her reports even more credibility. As her reputation grew, NBC made her a radio commentator on Emphasis and Monitor. She also participated in such NBC specials as "The Pill" and "The Sexual Revolution"(1967), and in 1969 she covered the ceremony which conferred Prince Charles (1948) as the Prince of Wales.

Finally in 1974 Walters was named cohost of the Today show. By then, her status as a broadcaster had risen to such heights that she had twice been named to Harper's Bazaar 's list of "100 Women of Accomplishment" (1967 and 1971), Ladies Home Journa l's "75 Most Important Women" (1970), and Time 's "200 Leaders of the Future" (1974). As the most influential woman on television, others soon competed for her talents.

Million-dollar newswoman

In 1976 Walters accepted a million-dollar-a-year contract for five years to move to ABC, where she became television's first network anchorwoman, the most prestigious job in television journalism. She also anchored and produced four prime-time specials and sometimes hosted or appeared on the network's other news and documentary programs. Her contract stirred professional criticism and jealousy. It not only doubled her income from NBC and her syndicated show, Not For Women Only, but it also made her the highest paid newscaster in history at that time. Walter Cronkite (1916), John Chancellor, and Harry Reasoner then received about four hundred thousand dollars.

Executives of other networks cried that their established anchors might demand salary increases, questioned what they perceived as a "show biz" tint to the dry task of news reporting, and questioned whether the public would accept a woman news anchor. (ABC's private polls before they made their record offer indicated only 13 percent preferred a male anchor, and they knew her presence could easily increase advertising revenues far exceeding her salary.)

Despite Walters's sharp, probing interviewing techniques, she seldom seemed to alienate the person she was interviewing. She revealed some of the secrets of her success in her book How to Talk With Practically Anybody About Practically Anything (1970). Others attributed her interviewing success to her amazing ability to ask primarily those questions that the public would want answered.

However, Walters still had her critics. Some interview-subjects said her nervousness distracted them. Others claimed she was so eager that disastrous mistakes occurred, citing the instance when she grabbed another network's microphone as she dashed to get a unique interview. Washington press corps members charged that she acted more as a "star" than as a reporter on presidential trips. However, her professional admirers outnumbered those who criticized her. Walter Cronkite noted her special interviewing talents. Sally Quinn, former rival on CBS Morning News, commented how "nice" Walters was to her.

Still on top

Walters's personal life held considerable interest to the public. Her brief marriage to businessman Bob Katz was annulled, or made void; her thirteen-year marriage to Lee Guber, a theatrical producer, ended in divorce. Still they remained friendly, sharing mutual love for their daughter, Jacqueline Dena. In 1985 she married Merv Adelson, who had also previously been wed twice.

Walters has had a reputation for often being the first to interview world leaders. During the 1996 presidential campaign she interviewed the first African American Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell (1937), after his retirement from the military. She has also had exclusive interviews with both Christopher Darden and Robert Shapiro of the O. J. Simpson murder trial, noted by the media as one of the most controversial murder trials of the twentieth century. Walters also had exclusive interviews with billionaire David Geffen, then with Christopher Reeve (1952) following the horseback riding fall that left him paralyzed. In 1999, Walters was the first to be granted a public interview by Monica Lewinsky, the former White House intern whose affair with President Bill Clinton (1946) led to his impeachment trial by the U.S. House of Representatives.

Walters's elevation to top-paid broadcaster was credited with raising the status of other women journalists. Her own prowess as a broadcaster exploring socially important issues and as top-notch interviewer were undeniable. In addition, she excelled at bringing to the television public subjects that ranged from show business personalities to heads of state.

In September 2000, Walter renewed her contract with ABC. The lucrative deal reportedly pays Walters $12 million per year, making her one of the highest paid news anchors in the world.

For More Information

Malone, Mary. Barbara Walters: TV Superstar. Hillside, NJ: Enslow, 1990.

Oppenheimer, Jerry. Barbara Walters: An Unauthorized Biography. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1990.

Remstein, Henna. Barbara Walters. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 1999.

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Barbara Walters

Barbara Walters

Drawing the highest pay in the history of television broadcasting at the time, Barbara Walters (born 1931) became the first woman co-anchor of a network evening newscast. She developed to a high art the interviewing of public figures.

Barbara Walters was born to Dena (Selett) and Lou Walters. Her father operated a number of nightclubs, resulting in Barbara attending schools in Boston, New York, and Miami Beach. She earned a B.A. degree in English from Sarah Lawrence College (1954). After working briefly as a secretary she landed a job with NBC's (the National Broadcasting Company's) New York affiliate WRCA-TV where she quickly rose to producer and writer. She also held various writing and public relations jobs, including a stint as women's-program producer at WPIX-TV in New York.

Her abilities and experience in research, writing, filming, and editing earned her a job as news and public affairs producer for CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System) television. There she wrote materials for noted personalities who appeared on the CBS morning show that competed with NBC's Today program. She left CBS because she believed further advancement was unlikely.

In 1961 she was hired by NBC as a writer with an occasional on-the-air feature for the Today show. Within three years Walters became an on-camera interviewer and persuaded such notables as Mamie Eisenhower, Anwar Sadat, and H. R. Haldeman to appear with her.

Meanwhile, a number of different "show-business" women held the post as the "Today girl," but none held news credentials. Mainly they engaged in small talk and read commercials. Some at NBC began to think a different kind of woman might help the show. When the spot was unexpectedly vacated, Walters was given the "Today girl" slot on a trial basis. The public readily accepted this bright, on-the-air newswoman, who also continued to write and produce much of her own material. A few months later Hugh Downs said Walters was the best thing that had happened to the Today show during his time as host. They would later be teamed on ABC's program 20/20 as competition to CBS's Sixty Minutes.

Today feature stories by Walters included socially significant topics, and frequently she got on-the-spot experience which gave her reports even more credibility. As her reputation grew, NBC made her a radio commentator on Emphasis and Monitor. She also participated in such NBC specials as "The Pill" and "The Sexual Revolution" (1967), and in 1969 she covered the investiture of Prince Charles as the Prince of Wales.

Finally in 1974 Walters was named co-host of the Today show. By then, her status as a broadcaster had risen to such heights that she had twice been named to Harper's Bazaar's list of "100 Women of Accomplishment" (1967 and 1971), Ladies Home Journal's "75 Most Important Women" (1970), and Time's "200 Leaders of the Future" (1974). As the most influential woman on television, others soon vied for her talents.

In 1976 she accepted a million-dollar-a-year contract for five years to move to ABC, where she became television's first network anchor-woman, the most prestigious job in television journalism. She also anchored and produced four prime-time specials and sometimes hosted or appeared on the network's other news and documentary programs. Her contract stirred professional criticism and jealousy. It not only doubled her income from NBC and her syndicated show, Not For Women Only, but it also made her the highest-paid newscaster in history at that time. (Walter Cronkite, John Chancellor, and Harry Reasoner then received about $400,000.) Reasoner, with whom she was to co-anchor, seemed especially miffed at first but later was mollified.

Executives of other networks fumed that their established anchors might demand salary increases, questioned what they perceived as a "show-biz" tint to the sober task of news reporting, and questioned whether the public would accept a woman news-anchor. (ABC's private polls before they made their record offer indicated only 13 percent preferred a male anchor, and they knew her presence could easily increase advertising revenues far exceeding her salary.)

Despite Walters' tart, probing interviewing techniques, she seldom seemed to alienate the person she was interviewing. She revealed some of the secrets of her success in her book How to Talk With Practically Anybody About Practically Anything (1970). Others attributed her interviewing success to her uncanny ability to ask primarily those questions which the public would want answered.

Still, Walters was not without her critics. Some interview-subjects said her nervousness distracted them. Others claimed she was so eager that disastrous mistakes occurred, citing the instance when she grabbed another network's microphone as she dashed to get a unique interview. Washington press corps members charged that she acted more as a "star" than as a reporter on presidential trips. However, her professional admirers outnumbered her detractors. Walter Cronkite noted her special interviewing talents. Sally Quinn, former rival on CBS Morning News, commented how "nice" Walters was to her.

Walters' personal life held considerable interest to the public. Her brief marriage to businessman Bob Katz was annulled; her 13-year marriage to Lee Guber, a theatrical producer, ended in divorce. Still they remained congenial, sharing mutual love for their daughter, Jacqueline Dena. In 1985 she married Merv Adelson, who had also previously been wed twice.

Walters' elevation to top-paid broadcaster was credited with raising the status of other women journalists. Her own prowess as a broadcaster exploring socially-important issues and as top-notch interviewer were undeniable. In addition, she excelled at bringing to the television public reluctant interview-subjects that ranged from show business personalities to heads of state.

Walters has had a reputation for often being the first to interview world leaders. During the 1996 presidential campaign she interviewed the first African American Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell, after his retirement. She has also had exclusive interviews with both Christopher Dardin and Robert Shapiro of the O.J. Simpson murder trial, noted by the media as one of the most controversial murder trials of the twentieth century. Walters also had exclusive interviews with billionaire David Geffen and with Christopher Reeves following the horseback riding fall that left him paralyzed.

In 1996 Walters celebrated 20 years with ABC. At the time, she was earning $10 million per year.

Further Reading

Biographical data for Barbara Walters is primarily found in her book How to Talk With Practically Anybody About Practically Anything (1970). In addition to the periodicals cited in the biography see Newsweek (May 19, 1969); Reader's Digest (May 1974); Vogue (June 1975); Newsweek (May 3, 1976); Time (May 3, 1976); and Ladies Home Journal (July 1983; June 1984). □

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Walters, Barbara

WALTERS, BARBARA

WALTERS, BARBARA (1931– ), U.S. broadcast journalist. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Walters received a B.A. in English from Sarah Lawrence College in New York in 1953. She began her career as a writer for local television stations on the East Coast. In 1961 she joined nbc's Today show, and in 1964 she became its lead female correspondent. She was already earning a reputation as a skilled reporter and interviewer at a time when women's function on news programs was usually subordinated to the male anchors. She hosted the tv series Not for Women Only (1971–76). In 1974 nbc accorded her the status of co-host on Today, a position she retained until 1976. Walters had a string of exclusive interviews with personalities of international status – including Fidel Castro, Anwar Sadat, and every U.S. president since Richard Nixon. In 1976 she joined abc as co-anchor of its evening news with Harry Reasoner, at a salary of $1 million per year for five years. She thus became the first female to anchor a news broadcast on a major network and the first anchorperson to earn a million dollars a year. While Walters' arrival did not signal the ratings boost for which abc had hoped, she remained on contract to the network and flourished with a series of interview specials and as a correspondent on the newsmagazine 20/20, of which she was the co-host from 1984 until 2004. Among her many television stints and appearances, she hosted the running interview series The Barbara Walters Specials (which began in 1976); served as substitute anchor on abc News Nightline (1991–2004); hosted the tv series Turning Point, along with such journalists as Peter Jennings and Diane Sawyer (1993–97); and hosted the music show in a New Light '94 (1994); the tv special A Celebration: 100 Years of Great Women (1999); and the tv talk show The View from 1997, serving as its executive producer in 1999–2000.

Among her many honors and awards, Walters was nominated for 18 Emmy Awards and won one in 2003 for The View. She was inducted into the Television Academy Arts and Sciences' Hall of Fame in 1990; she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Women's Media Foundation (1991); was honored by the American Museum of the Moving Image (1992); received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Women's Project and Productions (1993); and in 1996 was honored by the Museum of Television and Radio for her contributions to broadcast journalism. Walters wrote How to Talk with Practically Anybody about Practically Anything (1970).

bibliography:

M. Fox, Barbara Walters: The News Her Way (1980); M. Malone, Barbara Walters: tv Superstar (1990); J. Oppenheimer, Barbara Walters: An Unauthorized Biography (1992); H. Remstein, Barbara Walters (1998).

[Rohan Saxena and

Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]

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Walters, Barbara

Barbara Walters

BORN: September 25, 1931 • Boston, Massachusetts

American broadcast journalist, television producer

When respected broadcast journalist Barbara Walters started working in television in the early 1960s, she became one of the first women to break into an industry that had long been considered a boys' club, meaning that it was designed for men only. Over the course of her forty-year career, Walters was the first woman to hold many kinds of jobs. For instance, she served as the first female anchor (the main news presenter) of a major network newscast when she joined the ABC Evening News with Harry Reasoner (1923–1991) in 1976.

"Don't complain, don't whine, don't blame anybody. Just work as hard as you can. I showed that not only can women do what men can do, but sometimes we do it better, faster, and first."

Walters is probably best known as the host of The Barbara Walters Specials, an occasional interview series which has aired on ABC since 1976. During its thirty-year run, Walters has interviewed a wide variety of celebrities and world leaders, including every sitting U.S. president and first lady. Walters has also received seven Emmy Awards and served as a mentor for countless other female reporters, including Connie Chung and Paula Zahn.

Becoming a journalist

Barbara Walters was born on September 25, 1931 (some sources say 1929), to Louis Edward Walters and Dena Seletsky Walters. Louis Walters was a Broadway producer who also owned the Latin Quarter, a famous chain of nightclubs. Due to his business interests, the family divided their time between New York and Miami. Her father's job also gave Barbara the opportunity to meet and talk with many celebrities throughout her youth. She has credited this early experience for allowing her to feel at ease in the company of public figures.

Walters attended Miami Beach High School and later received her bachelor's degree in English from Sarah Lawrence College. After she completed college, her family went bankrupt, and her father suffered a heart attack. Walters then took a job as a secretary to help her family. Before long, though, she was able to put her skills as an English major to work by writing for television programs, including The Dick Van Dyke Show and CBS News. Her success as a writer led to a job as a producer for New York's NBC affiliate station, WNBC-TV.

Although Walters was thrilled to be working in television, she hoped to eventually appear in front of the cameras as a news reporter. She knew that she faced a few obstacles in this field. "I was the kind nobody thought could make it," she admitted. "I had a funny Boston accent. I couldn't pronounce my Rs. I wasn't a beauty."

Reporting in a hostile environment

During the 1950s, Walters was married for a short time to businessman Robert Henry Katz. In 1963, she married her second husband, theater producer Lee Guber, and they adopted a daughter, Jacqueline. Around this time, Walters started working on Today, a national morning news and entertainment program that aired on NBC. She started out as a writer for the show and then worked her way up to become a news reporter.

Throughout her early career, however, Walters struggled to prove herself to male co-workers who believed that women were not capable of being good journalists. Because of their sexist attitudes, Walters often could not interview a subject until all of the male reporters had finished asking their questions. She was also discouraged from asking questions about politics or financial issues, which were not considered appropriate for women. It took more than a decade of working behind the scenes on Today before she was officially named co-host of the show in 1974.

Despite the challenges Walters faced, she soon became an audience favorite thanks to her regular interview segment on Today. Walters interviewed many prominent people, including the families of slain leaders John F. Kennedy (1917–1963) and Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–1968). Walters also became known for doggedly pursuing big news stories. When U.S. president Richard M. Nixon (1913–1994; served 1969–74) traveled to China in 1972, breaking twenty years of political silence between the two countries, Walters was the only woman to cover the story. She returned to China in 1975 to cover a visit by President Gerald R. Ford (1913–; served 1974–77). That same year, Walters began to receive recognition for her journalistic excellence. She earned an Emmy Award (an annual honor recognizing excellence in television), Broadcaster of the Year honors from the International Radio and Television Society, and an award from the National Association of Television Programming Executives.

Making a high-profile move to ABC

After fifteen years with the Today show, Walters moved to rival network ABC in 1976. She received an annual salary of one million dollars to become the first woman ever to serve as co-anchor of a national evening newscast. Co-anchor Harry Reasoner, however, was not pleased with the idea of sharing his job, particularly with a woman. Walters also came under criticism from viewers and the media. Some people questioned her qualifications or did not like her reporting style, while others disapproved of a woman earning such a lavish salary. Walters pointed out that she actually received $500,000 as the co-anchor of ABC News (the same salary as Reasoner) and $500,000 from the network's entertainment division for a series of hour-long, prime-time interview specials.

Walters ignored her critics and continued to prove herself a journalist. In 1977, she conducted the first joint interview with Egyptian president Anwar Sadat (1918–1973) and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin (1913–1992). At the time, the two Middle Eastern leaders were working on a historic peace treaty between their countries. Despite the seriousness of the proceedings, Walters established a casual, friendly atmosphere in the interview. "Sadat seemed to delight in chiding [teasing] Walters, a trait that served them both well," John Carman wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle. "When she tried to pin him down on peace terms during the joint interview, Sadat cut in and playfully remarked, 'You are always like this, Barbara.' Begin roared with laughter."

Establishing a reputation as a top interviewer

In 1979, citing low ratings, the network removed Walters from her position as co-anchor of the ABC Evening News. Although disappointed, Walters responded by working harder than ever to establish a place for herself in the world of TV news. "I had to work my way back," she told Peter Johnson of USA Today. "Don't complain, don't whine, don't blame anybody. Just work as hard as you can. I showed that not only can women do what men can do, but sometimes we do it better, faster, and first."

Shortly after losing her anchor position, Walters became a correspondent for 20/20, a weekly prime-time news magazine that combined hard-hitting investigative pieces with celebrity interviews and human-interest stories, similar to the different types of articles in a print magazine. In 1984 she became co-anchor of 20/20, working alongside Hugh Downs (1921–). Twenty years later, the news magazine still used Walters's interviews of public figures as regular features.

Walters's own prime-time interview series, The Barbara Walters Specials, first aired in 1976 and continued to receive strong ratings into the 2000s. Her style of personality journalism, which often encourages her subjects to open up and reveal their feelings and beliefs, has long appealed to television audiences. Viewers of the program also appreciate the fact that Walters seems to gain access to every major politician and entertainer of the day. Over its thirty-year history, The Barbara Walters Specials has received a number of prominent awards.

Despite the program's popularity, however, it has often served as the target of critics and as the subject of ridicule by comedians. During the 1980s, for instance, comedian Gilda Radner (1946–1989) did a famous impersonation of Walters on the skit-comedy series Saturday Night Live. Radner's character, "Baba Wawa," was barely understandable due to a speech impediment and always seemed to find herself much more interesting than her interview subjects. Other people have questioned Walters' integrity as a journalist over the years, claiming that she only asks safe, easy questions.

Regardless of the criticism it has received, Walters's interview program remained highly influential. Walters's intimate talk with actor Christopher Reeve (1952–2004), conducted shortly after the horseback riding accident that left him paralyzed, was watched by twenty-nine million viewers and received a George Foster Peabody Award. Her interview with Monica Lewinsky, the White House intern who had an affair with President Bill Clinton (1946–; served 1993–2001), received the highest ratings of any TV interview in history.

Moving into daytime TV with The View

In 1986, Walters married Merv Adelson, the head of Lorimar Television. The marriage ended in divorce six years later. In 1997, Walters created a daytime talk show for ABC called The View. Walters selected four women of varying ages, ethnic backgrounds, and beliefs to serve as her co-hosts. "I've always wanted to do a show with women who have very different views," she explained during the series premiere. The View provides a casual atmosphere where the hosts and various guests can discuss current events, fashion, and entertainment.

In 2004, Walters retired from her position as co-host of 20/20 to concentrate on other projects. For instance, she created and hosted a 2005 television special called "Heaven. Where is it? How do we get there?" "I've done years and years of specials, but I care more about this one than anything I've ever done," she told Rebecca Phillips of Beliefnet. "I think there's a great need and a great soul-searching in this country." Throughout her long career, Walters has faced criticism for her role in shifting the emphasis of TV news away from hard facts and toward entertainment and personality. But her critics cannot dispute the fact that the pioneering female broadcast journalist has attained a position of lasting influence and paved the way for future generations of women to succeed in the field.

For More Information

BOOKS

Gianoulis, Tina. "Barbara Walters." St. James Encyclopedia of Pop Culture, Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group, 2002.

Oppenheimer, Jerry. Barbara Walters: An Unauthorized Biography. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991.

Remstein, Henna, and Martina S. Horner. Women of Achievement: Barbara Walters. New York: Chelsea House, 1998.

PERIODICALS

Carman, John. "Walters and Twenty Years of Questions." San Francisco Chronicle, May 1, 1996.

Johnson, Peter. "Barbara Walters Looks Back on Her Trailblazing Role." USA Today, September 16, 2004.

Lowry, Brian. "A Barbara Walters Special: Heaven. Where Is It? How Do We Get There?" Variety, December 19, 2005.

WEB SITES

"Barbara Walters." ABC.com. http://abc.go.com/theview/hosts/walters.html (accessed on May 22, 2006).

"Barbara Walters Leaving 20/20." CNN.com, January 26, 2004. http://www.cnn.com/2004/SHOWBIZ/TV/01/26/tv.abc.walters.ap (accessed on May 22, 2006).

McLeland, Susan. "Walters, Barbara." Museum of Broadcast Communications. http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/W/htmlW/waltersbarb/waltersbarb.htm (accessed on May 22, 2006).

Phillips, Rebecca. "Heaven is a Place Where You Are Happy." Beliefnet. http://www.beliefnet.com/story/181/story_18118.html (accessed on May 22, 2006).

Senior, Jennifer. "30th Anniversary Issue/Barbara Walters." NYMAG.com. http://www.newyorkmetro.com/nymetro/news/people/features/2433/index.html (accessed on May 22, 2006).

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