Barbara Jill Walters is an American broadcast journalist, author, and television personality. Walters is known for having hosted a variety of television programs, including “Today,” “The View,” “20/20,” and the “ABC Evening News.” Since retirement as a full-time host and contributor, she continued to occasionally report for “ABC News” through 2015. Take a look below for 30 more awesome and interesting facts about Barbara Walters.
1. Walters first became known as a television personality in the early 1960s, when she was a writer and segment producer of “women’s interest stores,” on the NBC News morning program “The Today Show,” where she began working with host Hugh Downs.
2. As a result of her outstanding interviewing ability and her popularity with viewers, she received more airtime on the program.
3. Even though her production duties made her a significant contributor to the program, she had no input in choosing a successor for Downs when he left in 1971, and Frank McGee was hired.
4. In 1974, at the time of McGee’s death, Walters became co-host of the program, the first woman to hold such a title on an American news program.
5. In 1976, continuing as a pioneer for women in broadcasting, she became the first female co-anchor of a network evening news, working with Harry Reasoner on the ABC News flagship program, the “ABC Evening News,” earning an unprecedented US$1 million per year.
6. From 1979 to 2004, she worked as co-host and a producer for the ABC news-magazine “20/20.”
7. In 1997, Walters created and debuted as a co-host on “The View,” a daytime talk show with an all-female panel.
8. She retired as a co-host of “The View” in 2014 after 16 seasons, but still serves as its executive producer.
9. Since her retirement from “The View,” she has hosted a number of special reports for “20/20” and ABC News, as well as a documentary series for Investigation Discovery.
10. Her final on-air appearance for ABC News was in 2015.
11. In 1996, Walters was ranked #34 on the TV Guide “50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time” list, and in 2000 she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
12. Walters was born in 1929, although Walters herself has claimed 1931 in an on-camera interview, in Boston to Dena and Louis “Lou” Walters.
13. Her parents were both Jewish, and descendants of refugees from the former Russian Empire.
14. Walters’s paternal grandfather, Abraham Isaac Warmwater, was born in Łódź, Poland, and emigrated to the United Kingdom, changing his name to Abraham Walters; the original family surname was Waremwasser.
15. Walters’s father, Lou, was born in London c. 1896 and moved to New York with his father and two brothers, arriving August 28, 1909. His mother and four sisters arrived in 1910.
16. In 1949, her father opened the New York version of the Latin Quarter. He also worked as a Broadway producer where he produced the “Ziegfeld Follies” of 1943.
17. Walters’s brother, Burton, died in 1944 of pneumonia.
18. Walters’s elder sister, Jacqueline, was born mentally disabled and died of ovarian cancer in 1985.
19. According to Walters, her father made and lost several fortunes throughout his life in show business. He was a booking agent, and unlike her uncles who were in the shoe and dress business, his job was not very safe.
20. During the good times, Walters recalls her father taking her to the rehearsals of the night club shows he directed and produced. The actresses and dancers would make a huge fuss over her and twirl her around until she was dizzy. Then she said her father would take her out for hot dogs, their favorite.
21. According to Walters, being surrounded by celebrities when she was young kept her from being “in awe” of them.
22. When she was a young woman, Walters’s father lost his night clubs and the family’s penthouse on Central Park West.
23. As Walters recalled, “He had a breakdown. He went down to live in our house in Florida, and then the government took the house, and they took the car, and they took the furniture.” Of her mother, she said, “My mother should have married the way her friends did, to a man who was a doctor or who was in the dress business.”
24. Walters attended Lawrence School, a public school in Brookline, Massachusetts, to the middle of fifth grade, when her father moved the family to Miami Beach in 1939, where she also attended public school.
25. After her father moved the family to New York City, she went to eighth grade at Ethical Culture Fieldston School, after which the family moved back to Miami Beach. Then, she went back to New York City, where she attended Birch Wathen School from which she graduated in 1947.
26. In 1951, she received a B.A. in English from Sarah Lawrence College and immediately looked for work in New York City.
27. After about a year at a small advertising agency, she began working at the NBC network affiliate in New York City, WNBT-TV, doing publicity and writing press releases.
28. She began producing a 15-minute children’s program, “Ask the Camera,” directed by Roone Arledge in 1953.
29. She began producing for TV host Igor Cassini/Cholly Knickerbocker. However, she left the network after her boss pressured her to marry him and engaged in a fist-fight with a man she preferred to date.
30. Walters has been married four times to three different men.