(1929 - )
Barbara Walters has become a television superstar
through her state of the arts form of questioning of celebrities and
journalistic instinct. She achieved this status the hard way as she broke
through "the man's world of television journalism."
She was born on September 25, 1931, in Boston,
Massachusetts, to Dena and Lou Walters, who was the owner of New York
City's famous nightclub, The Latin Quarter. She was raised in Miami and New
York as her father's business of being an impresario took them to these two
cities during the year. Because she was surrounded by celebrities who
worked and socialized with her father, she was not intimidated by their
She attended public schools in New York and Miami and
then entered Sarah Lawrence College, in Bronxville, New York. She received
her B.A. degree in English in 1953. After graduation, she moved to New York
City where she wanted to pursue a career in television.
She was hired by RCA-TV, the local affiliate of NBC, to
do some writing, producing and public relations. Her talent was recognized
by Dave Garaway, an early host of the Today Show, who invited her to become
a writer on his staff. It was not long before she was given on-air
assignments. The choice news stories were assigned to the men and Walters
had to break through this wall of sexism. Her popularity rose because of
her unique ability to interview celebrities.
They gave her a regular spot on the show for her
interviews. She was able to schedule members of the Kennedy family, the
widow and children of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and other
important and well known people. This was also a period where television
learned how to become an important media in reporting breaking news as it
was happening. In 1976, ABC hired her from NBC, as a co-anchor woman for
their prime news time at a record breaking one million dollars a year. In
November, 1977, Walters scored her biggest scoop when she interviewed
Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem
Walters has continued to conduct interviews with such
well known personalities as Princess Diana of England, General Colin
Powell, Hillary Rodham Clinton, wife of President William Clinton, Robert
Shapiro, famous defense attorney, etc. Her ability in drawing people out,
understanding the situation and to make it as clear as possible during
interviews has attributed to her success. The year 1996 marks the twentieth
anniversary of her relationship with the American Broadcasting. Her 20/20 television show is always in the weekly top ratings according to the polls.
Walters has substituted many times for a vacationing Ted Koppel on his Nightline program and has her own special programs throughout the year.
Barbara Walters was married and divorced. She has an
adopted daughter, Jacqueline, with whom she enjoys the mother-daughter
relationship. Jacqueline once complained to a friend, "My mommy can't
drive and she can't make meat loaf. All my mommy can do is
Barbara Walters is a television superstar who broke
through the male dominated news broadcasting. Her success as a television
newscaster and host of magazine programs and special shows proves that
women can achieve stardom in television when given the opportunity.
Sources: This is one of the 150 illustrated true stories of
American heroism included in Jewish
Heroes & Heroines of America : 150 True Stories of American Jewish
Heroism, © 1996, written by Seymour "Sy" Brody of
Delray Beach, Florida, illustrated by Art Seiden of Woodmere, New York, and
published by Lifetime Books, Inc., Hollywood, FL.