Barbara Walters, the trailblazing journalist who changed the course of morning, evening, and daytime news throughout her 60 year television career, has died at the age of 93. The news was announced late Friday night by Disney CEO Bob Iger.
“Barbara was a true legend, a pioneer not just for women in journalism but for journalism itself,” Iger wrote on his Twitter account. “She was a one-of-a-kind reporter who landed many of the most important interviews of our time from heads of state and leaders of regimes 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.”
Born in Boston in 1929, Walters first rose to prominence as a staffer on “The Today Show” in the early 1960s, frequently producing and appearing in women’s interest segments. Her appearances became more and more frequent, and she was eventually named an official co-host of the morning show in 1974, making her the first woman to hold that title.
Walters soon set her sights on evening news broadcasts, and made history once again when she became the first female co-anchor of “ABC Evening News” in 1976. She held that position until 1978, and the job launched a decades-long relationship between Walters and ABC News. She began contributing stories to the ABC newsmagazine “20/20” in 1979, and remained affiliated with the show until her retirement in 2015.
Walters quickly became known as one of America’s most prominent interviewers, sitting down with world leaders ranging from Fidel Castro and Vladimir Putin to several United States presidents. She didn’t limit herself to politics, and also interviewed cultural figures including Michael Jackson and Katherine Hepburn.
In 1997, while continuing to do interviews for “20/20,” Walters served as a co-creator, executive producer, and co-host of “The View.” The panel show, which famously featured women from across the political spectrum offering opinions on the news of the day, became one of the most successful daytime talk shows of all time. Walters hosted the show until 2014, and retained an executive producer credit on it until her death.