Barbara Walters, trailblazing TV journalist, dies at 93

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Television journalist Barbara Walters, the first woman to anchor an evening newscast, has died at the age of 93.

Walters, whose more than 40 years at ABC TV became a cultural icon, died Friday at his home in New York. Tweet Friday evening Robert Iger, CEO of ABC parent Walt Disney Company.

“Barbara is a true legend, a pioneer not only for women in journalism, but for journalism itself,” Iger said in a statement. “He was a one-of-a-kind reporter who landed many of the most important interviews of our time, from heads of state to major celebrities and sports icons.”

“Barbara Walters passed away peacefully at her home surrounded by loved ones. She lived her life with no regrets. She was a trailblazer not only for women journalists, but for all women,” her publicist Cindy Berger said in a statement.

His death was announced late Friday by ABC, the network where he worked for nearly four decades. Her interviews with elected officials, heads of state and Hollywood entertainers also gave Walters a celebrity status. In addition to hosting NBC’s Today and ABC’s 20/20 news programs, he is well known for frequent specials such as his annual 10 Most Fascinating People show.

Walters made his television broadcast debut in 1961 as a researcher and writer on NBC’s Today program, becoming co-anchor in 1974. In 1976 she made headlines by moving to ABC, where she was named the first female network news anchor. His five-year contract earned him an unprecedented $1 million salary.

He is famous for asking personal questions of his guests, and he often gets so emotional that he starts crying on camera. During his storied career, he interviewed every US president from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama, heads of state such as Cuban President Fidel Castro, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the Shah of Iran, as well as entertainers. Lucille Ball, Grace Kelly and John Wayne — his last television interview before his death three months later.

He was also known for his speech impediment, which cemented his status as a cultural icon in the 1970s when he was parodied by the late comedian Gilda Ratner as Papa Wawa in a popular Saturday Night Live sketch.

In 2014, Walters retired from The View, the morning television talk show he created in 1997, ending a 53-year career in broadcast journalism that brought him 12 Emmy Awards.


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