The Heart-Wrenching Death Of Barbara Walters

Barbara Walters, one of the pioneering women in American broadcast journalism and the first woman to co-anchor an evening newscast segment has died, according to ABC. She was 93 years old. Walters was living a mostly quiet life away from the media since retiring from journalism in 2014. 

"Barbara Walters passed away peacefully in her home surrounded by loved ones. She lived her life with no regrets. She was a trailblazer not only for female journalists but for all women," said Walters' spokesperson Cindi Berger (via CNN).

Her legacy as a journalist includes interviewing dozens of notable and infamous figures — from Monica Lewinsky and Fidel Castro to Michael Jackson and Vladimir Putin. Walters was also a talk show host and correspondent of ABC's long-running news show, "20/20." She leaves behind an established career, and will be remembered for paving the way for a lot of women in broadcast journalism.

Barbara Walters' early life and career

The famous journalist was born Barbara Jill Walters on September 25, 1929, in Boston, Massachusetts (via Biography). She was one of three children, but sadly she outlived both of her siblings; her brother died just a few years after she was born, and her sister died in 1985.

She completed her secondary education in New York and in Florida. When she went to college, she attended the formerly all-girls school of Sarah Lawrence College in New York and graduated with an English degree. Not long after, Walters landed her first broadcasting job, writing for NBC New York. There she honed her skills and even started producing. She continued to move up and another opportunity came for Walters when she was hired to write for CBS. However, she would be back at NBC in 1961 when she was hired to work on the "Today" show — the network's daily morning series. 

Her big break came in 1964, when she was a regular face on the show as the Today Girl, co-hosting with Hugh Downs. But it would take a decade before the network formally designated her as an official co-host in '74.

Departure for ABC and subsequent notoriety

In the early '70s, Walters was now a familiar face on NBC, and one of the few women in broadcast television. But in 1976, she would move on to ABC and she'd remain with that network until her retirement.

Her career at ABC is what many will remember Walters by. When she first joined the network, she signed a five-year contract worth $1 million dollars a year, and became the first evening anchorwoman, per Britannica — something unheard of back then. Soon after, she found herself working on ABC's investigative news show "20/20" and her own show, "Barbara Walters Specials," where she would make her name as the interviewer who spoke to some of the most notable figures in the world. The self-titled show would earn her and the network eight Emmy nominations from 1981 to 88. She would win her only award for the program in 1983, per the Emmys.

And it wouldn't be the last Emmy award Walters would win with ABC. In 1997, she pitched and began hosting and executive producing the popular daytime panel show, "The View." The show has been nominated every year since its inception, and has won in several categories, including Outstanding Daytime Talk Show and Informative Talk Show (via IMDb). Walters would make appearances on other ABC shows, such as her interview with "Oprah," and even had her own annual special, "10 Most Fascinating People." She would leave the network after four decades when she announced her retirement in 2014.

Life after retirement and Walters' philanthropy

Following her retirement, Walters spoke at her alma mater Sarah Lawrence College for their 2014 commencement. The next year she donated the biggest sum the school had ever received — $15 million dollars (via Philanthropy News Digest). As a result of her philanthropy, the school built and named a new campus center after her that officially opened in 2019, per the college website.

Walters credits the school for shaping her mindset and giving her the courage to pursue the career path she later chose. "I attribute my success, in many ways, to the curiosity and confidence I came away with from this remarkable college," said Walters.

Walters was once married to Broadway producer Lee Guber, but they divorced after 13 years of marriage in 1976. Together the couple had one child, whom they adopted, named Jacqueline Dina Guber. Walters never remarried. She is survived by her daughter.