A Tribute to Barbara Walters (1929 to 2022)

Barbara Walters retirement
Barbara Walters, a legendary journalist who broke down barriers in the news industry, has passed away. (Photo property of ABC News)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

It is a dark day in the world of journalism. Countless media outlets have reported, including ABC News and NBC News, that trailblazing journalist Barbara Walters, who changed the news industry, passed away on Friday, December 30, 2022, at 93 years old.

Barbara was born on September 25, 1929, in Boston, Massachusetts. Her family moved from Boston to Miami when her father, Lou, expanded on his highly successful nightclub empire in 1937.

She graduated from Miami Beach High School in 1947 and later attended Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, where she received a bachelor’s degree in English in 1953.

After a brief stint as a secretary and serving as publicity assistant to WRCA-TV’s Tex McCray, Barbara Walters set her sights on the developing world of broadcast news. She left WRCA-TV and increased her talents as an interviewer and a producer when she joined CBS’s Morning Show.

During the early 1960s, she joined The Today Show as one of the show’s signature Today Girls. However, producers saw her talent, and within a year, she became a reporter-at-large. Ms. Walters officially became the first female co-host of a daytime news program in 1974.

Two years later, Ms. Walters exited NBC to join ABC as the first female co-anchor of the ABC Evening News. However, it was not an easy journey. Several of her co-workers on both networks (particularly Frank McGee and Harry Reasoner) voiced their displeasure with Barbara on-and-off camera.

Barbara Walters has interviewed countless world leaders, entertainment icons and controversial figures including Fidel Castro, Michael Jackson and Monica Lewinsky. (Photo property of ABC)

However, she did not listen to her naysayers and continued her journey. In addition to working on the ABC Evening News, she reunited with her former Today colleague Hugh Downs and rejuvenated ABC’s news magazine 20/20. Some of her historic interviews included sit-downs with world leaders such as Fidel Castro, Vladimir Putin, and Margaret Thatcher, and an exclusive joint conversation with both former Egyptian President Anwar Al Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

In addition to talking to world leaders, Ms. Walters spoke with numerous United States Presidents, from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump. She interviewed controversial figures, including Monica Lewinsky,  V. Stiviano, and the late Rush Limbaugh. 

Ms. Walters dove headfirst into Hollywood as she interviewed some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry ranging from legendary icons such as the late Lucille Ball and the late Michael Jackson to her fellow trailblazers Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey. These interviews led her to create the annual special, Barbara Walters’ 10 Most Fascinating People, where she interviewed the biggest names in politics, sports, and entertainment. Former Democratic Presidential Candidate Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton has the record of being the Most Fascinating Person four times. Tom Hanks, Sarah Palin, Susan Lucci, Tiger Woods, Jennifer Lopez, and Ben Affleck are among the multiple people that made her list more than once.

All The View co-hosts who sat at the table with her posed together on Barbara Walters’ second-to-last episode of “The View.” (Photo property of ABC’s Lou Rocco)

One of the most significant parts of Ms. Walters’s legacy to the Millennial Generation was the introduction of The ViewCo-created with her longtime creative partner, Bill Geddie, in 1997, The View gathered five women to talk about the hottest political and entertainment topics. 

Among the women that sat alongside Barbara included Meredith Vieira, Joy Behar, Star Jones, Debbie Matenopoulous, Lisa Ling, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Rosie O’Donnell, Whoopi Goldberg, Sherri Shepherd, and Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg. In May 2014, Walters reunited with all her co-hosts for a special episode and her final day as a full-time The View cast member– many of the women that she inspired to get into the business, such as Oprah, Diane Sawyer, Robin Roberts, Jane Pauley, Katie Couric, Gayle King, and Connie Chung paid homage to her. 

Without Barbara Walters, countless journalists (both women and men) would not have entered the news industry. She was one of the people that inspired me to begin jakes-take.com and later my podcast – The Jake’s Take with Jacob Elyachar PodcastMs. Walters will be forever missed. Jake’s Take sends its thoughts, prayers, and light to her daughter, Jacqueline, her family, friends, and colleagues. 

Copyright 2020 Jacob Elyachar