Barbara Walters, a superstar and pioneer in TV news, has died.

Trailblazing journalist Barbara Walters, 1st female network anchor, has died

(As originally published with many historic photos, Fri, December 30th 2022, 9:59 PM EST)

WASHINGTON (TND) — Trailblazing television news broadcaster Barbara Walters has died at the age of 93 Friday, according to ABC News, her home of more than 40 years.

She was known as an intrepid interviewer, anchor and program host.

Barbara Walters passed away peacefully in her home surrounded by loved ones,” publicist Cindi Berger said in a statement. “She lived her life with no regrets. She was a trailblazer not only for female journalists, but for all women.”

Walters shattered the glass ceiling for women in journalism, starting on the “Today” show.

In 1961, NBC hired her for a short-term writing project. Then, when a slot among the show’s eight writers opened, Walters took what was seen as the token woman’s slot but began to make occasional on-air appearances.

While she was spared the title of “Today Girl” given to her female predecessors, she paid her dues, sometimes sprinting across the “Today” set between interviews to do dog food commercials.

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

But the arrival of a new host, Frank McGee, caused a setback in 1971. He insisted she wait for him to ask three questions before she could open her mouth during joint interviews with “powerful persons.”

Instead, she hit the road and produced more exclusive interviews for the program, including Nixon chief of staff H.R. Haldeman and by 1976, she got the title of “Today” co-host and a paycheck of $700,000 a year.

From there, ABC lured her with a $5 million, five-year contract. She anchored the “ABC Evening News” with Harry Reasoner, who was said to resent her high salary and celebrity orientation.

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

After an interview with newly-elected President Jimmy Carter in which Walters told Carter “be wise with us,” CBS correspondent Morley Safer publicly derided her as “the first female pope blessing the new cardinal.”

She later recalled that time seemed to mark the end of everything she’d worked for:

“I thought it was all over. ‘How stupid of me ever to have left NBC!’”

But new ABC News president Roone Arledge moved her out of the co-anchor slot and into special projects.

Her “Barbara Walters Specials” featured exclusive interviews with famous and powerful rulers, royalty and entertainers, often before awards shows.

Walters’ exclusive interviews with rulers, royalty and entertainers brought her celebrity status that ranked with theirs.

A perennial favorite was her review of the year’s “10 Most Fascinating People.”

Eventually, Walters went to the newsmagazine 20/20 with host Hugh Downs, who she’d worked with at the “Today” show, and then she launched a show of her own, “The View,” in 1997.

The live ABC daytime kaffeeklatsch with an all-female panel was considered an unexpected hit and Walters called it the “dessert” of her career.

Walters was known for her drive as she competed — not just with rival networks, but with colleagues such as Diane Sawyer at her own network — for each big “get” in a world jammed with more and more interviewers.

According to ABC, Walters won 12 Emmy awards in a career that spanned five decades.

In May 2014, she taped her final appearance on “The View” to mark the end of her career on television, but she hosted occasional specials after that.

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

Her voice, which never lost its trace of her native Boston accent or its substitution of Ws-for-Rs, was parodied on shows such as “Saturday Night Live.”

Gilda Radner satirized her as a rhotacistic commentator named “Baba Wawa.”

ABC News reports Bob Iger, CEO of parent company Walt Disney Company, put out this statement:

”Barbara was a true legend, a pioneer not just for women in journalism but for journalism itself. She was a one-of-a-kind reporter who landed many of the most important interviews of our time, from heads of state to the biggest celebrities and sports icons. I had the pleasure of calling Barbara a colleague for more than three decades, but more importantly, I was able to call her a dear friend. She will be missed by all of us at The Walt Disney Company, and we send our deepest condolences to her daughter, Jacqueline.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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