“I was the kind nobody thought could make it,” Barbara Walters once said. “I had a funny Boston accent. I couldn’t pronounce my R’s. I wasn’t a beauty.” She was, however, a wholly unique combination of intelligence, ambition, drive, and character—a matchless personality that led her to one achievement after another in a remarkable fifty-year career.
Barbara was the first woman co-host of the Today show, the first female network news co-anchor, the host and producer of top-rated TV specials, the host and chief correspondent of “20/20,” and the creator and co-host of “The View.” She has not only interviewed the world’s most fascinating figures, she has become a part of their world.
Barbara Walters was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on September 25, 1929, to Dena and Lou Walters, and attended schools in Boston, New York, and Miami Beach. She earned a B.A. in English from Sarah Lawrence College, after which she joined NBC New York affiliate WRCA-TV, where she became a writer and the affiliate’s youngest producer. Her abilities and experience in research, writing, filming, and editing soon earned her a job as news and public affairs producer for CBS.
In 1961, she began as a writer on the Today show, and within a year became a reporter-at-large. She became a co-host of the program without the official title in 1963, but in 1974 NBC formally designated her as the program’s first female co-host.
Barbara joined ABC in 1976 as the first woman to co-host the network news. Through the years she has interviewed such world figures as Boris Yeltsin, Premier Jiang Zemin, Margaret Thatcher, Muammar Gaddafi, and Sadaam Hussein.
She was also the first American journalist to interview Vladimir Putin, and the first interview with President and Mrs. Bush following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
In fact, she has interviewed every American president and first lady since Richard Nixon, and made journalism history with the first joint interview with Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin in 1977.
The Barbara Walters Specials are continuously top-rated, and have included such legends as Sir Laurence Olivier, Bing Crosby, John Wayne, Bette Davis, and Audrey Hepburn. The 10 Most Fascinating People broadcast, launched in 1993, offers a review of the most prominent newsmakers of the year. After 25 years as host and chief correspondent of ABC News’ 20/20, Barbara left the show in 2004, but remains an active member of the news division and network. She is creator, co-executive producer, and co-host of The View, recipient of the 2003 Daytime Emmy® award for Outstanding Talk Show. In 2008, her autobiography, Audition, was published by Knopf to critical and popular acclaim, and spent several weeks at the top of the New York Times Bestseller List.
Over the years Barbara has been the recipient of numerous honors, including induction into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame and receipt of the ATAS Lifetime Achievement Award. She even has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Barbara is the recipient of honorary degrees from Sarah Lawrence, Ohio State University, Temple University, Marymount College, Wheaton College, Hofstra University, and Ben-Gurion University in Jerusalem.
“Success can make you go one of two ways,” Walters once reflected. “It can make you a prima donna, or it can smooth the edges, take away the insecurities, let the nice things come out.”