Women’s History Month-Barbara Walters
By: Breann Jeffards
This month is all about recognizing, empowering, and appreciating women throughout the world. It is also important to reflect on those women who have clearly impacted our society. Barbara Walters is a perfect example of these influential women. She is known as an American broadcast journalist, author, and television personality. Walters hosted a variety of television programs, including Today, The View, 20/20, and the ABC Evening News. Even after Walters retired, she continues to occasionally report for ABC News.
Barbara Walters was born September 25, 1929. She grew up going back and forth between New York City and Miami. The travel back and forth was in large because of her father’s unpredictable career in show business. Walters says she remembers going to show rehearsals with her father and getting to meet all the actors and dancers. She credits these experiences as the reason for which she isn’t afraid to approach or converse with celebrities. In 1951 Walters received a B.A. in English from Sarah Lawrence College and worked at a small advertising agency in New York City right after graduating. After about a year she took a job at WNBT-TV where she worked on publicity and writing press releases. Walters soon began producing a 15-minute children’s program in 1953, called “Ask the Camera.” She also worked with WPIX to produce the “Eloise McElhone Show,” unfortunately, it was canceled in 1954. She then became a writer on “The Morning Show” on CBS in 1955.
Barbara Walters began to form as a TV personality around 1960. She became a writer of “women’s interest stories” for NBC News on their morning show, The Today Show, in the early 1960s. Walters became extremely popular with viewers and people loved her personality. Because of this astounding reaction to Walters, she received more airtime over the next few years. In 1974 she was hired as the co-host for The Today Show and became the first women to hold such a title on an American news program. In 1976 she accepted a co-anchor position with ABC News on their nightly segment, ABC Evening News. Walters was again the first women to co-anchor an evening news segment. Her job at ABC News earned her a salary of about 1 million per year which was unprecedented for a woman at the time. These two firsts for Walters justify her impact for women in the journalism and broadcasting world.
Walters also published the book How to Talk with Practically Anybody about Practically Anything in 1970. The book was a huge hit and by 2008, it had been printed eight times, sold hundreds of thousands of copies worldwide, and had been translated into at least six different languages. Walters’ next news gig was with ABC where she was a co-host and producer for their segment, 20/20. She worked here from 1979-2004. Finally, in 1997 Walters created The View. Not only was she a creator, but also one of the show’s co-hosts and this was a daytime talk show with an all-female panel. Walters co-hosted the view for 16 seasons until 2014 and then became the executive producer which is the position she currently holds.
Barbara Walters has led an extremely influential lifestyle and made such an impact in the world of broadcasting and journalism. In 1975 she won the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show Host (Today). In 2003 The View won the Award for Best Talk Show, and in 2009 Walters won the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show Host for The View. She dared to step outside the boundaries and define a place for women in this field. Still to this day, she is passionate and influential in her field.