Barbara Walters, a pioneering journalist, who made headlines moving from NBC’s TODAY show to ABC’s news division, has died. Known for co-creating The View and hosting 20/20, she was 93 years old.
In Memoriam: Barbara Walters
ABC reported the news of Walters’s passing on twitter. “Barbara Walters, who shattered the glass ceiling and became a dominant force in an industry once dominated by men, has died. She was 93,” ABC News tweeted. At press time, no cause of death had been reported.
A native of Boston, Walters, who was born on September 25, 1929, got her education from Sarah Lawrence where she majored in English. She first worked at the NBC affiliate in New York City where she wrote press releases. But Walters was destined for a career in front of the camera. In 1953, she became a producer on Ask the Camera, a 15-minute children’s program. She moved over to the Eye network (CBS) and became a writer on The Morning Show.
In the early 1960s, Walters returned to NBC as a writer/researcher for The TODAY Show. She became a “Today Girl” and began appearing on camera. Walters officially became a co-host of the popular morning news program in 1974 following the death of Frank McGee. Walters also hosted the show Not for Woman Only on the local NBC affiliate.
Live From New York…It’s Baba Wawa
Walters was spoofed on Saturday Night Live by late comic actress Gilda Radner as interviewer “Baba Wawa,” who purposely emphasized her pronunciation of “r’s” and “l’s” which Walters herself was known for. Walters made headlines when she jumped ship to ABC to co-anchor the ABC Evening News with Harry Reasoner, which she did from 1976 to 1978.
Walters became known for her celebrity interviews on ABC programs including 20/20 with Hugh Downs, which Walters joined in 1979. Her list of interview subjects reads like a “Who’s Who” of Hollywood and the world of politics. She famously interviewed Katharine Hepburn and asked her if she were a tree, what kind of tree would she be? (For the record, the Oscar-winning actress responded, “An oak!”)
Barbara Walters Created The View
Walters created The View, which made its debut in 1997. The premiere cast included Meredith Vieira, Star Jones, and Debbie Matenopoulos. Joy Behar, who remains on the show today, filled in on days where Walters wasn’t available and/or was busy with ABC news duties. Walters stayed on the show, shepherding it through many panel changes including the additions (and sometimes exits) of Rosie O’Donnell, Whoopi Goldberg, and Elizabeth Hasselbeck. Walters retired from the show in 2014 as an on-air presence. (She retained her title as executive producer.)
The Young and the Restless’s Melissa Claire Egan (Chelsea Lawson) recalls co-hosting The View alongside Walters back when she was appearing as Annie Novak on All My Children. “I’m so sad to hear about the passing of the legendary Barbara Walters,” Egan posted on Instagram. “One of my biggest honors was co-hosting The View with her and her asking me ‘what I’m looking for’ in a man🤣. She was an icon and a legend and I’m proud I got to shake her hand. May she Rest In Peace.”
General Hospital’s Maurice Benard (Sonny Corinthos) shared a clip of his visit to The View in 2005 where he recounted the birth of his son, Joshua, born in December 2004. “I remember this she was incredible.” The actor had shared with the panel family photos and Walters revealed that his daughters were in the room when his son was born, making it a true family experience.
Walters received numerous awards throughout her career. In 2000, she was given the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Daytime Emmys. Right after she retired in 2014, she popped up in a segment on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, returning to her NBC roots. Soap Hub sends sincere condolences to Walters’s family, friends, and colleagues at this difficult time.