Barbara Walters' Life in Pictures

Having spent more than 50 years breaking the glass ceiling, Walters was a TV pioneer who used persistence, brains and charm to forge an exceptional career. Take a look back at some of the newswoman's highpoints

01 of 19

Barbara Walters' Early Years

Courtesy Barbara Walters

Barbara Walters (left) and her older sister, Jacqueline (in the 1930s; she died in 1985), had a close bond. "My mother used to dress us alike and spend hours doing our hair," Walters told PEOPLE. "My sister was very pretty and very sweet. She was what we would probably call 'developmentally challenged' today. I loved her dearly."

02 of 19

Barbara Walters on Today


Meant to join Today as a temporary replacement for "Today Girl" Maureen O'Sullivan — "They hired me for 13 weeks and I stayed on for 13 years," she joked — Walters (with Jack Lescoulie, left, and Hugh Downs in 1963) got her big break in 1962 when she was sent to cover First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy's trip to India and Pakistan. "I barely talked to her," Walters told the Archive of American Television. "My whole conversation with her consisted of saying, 'Mrs. Kennedy, there's a bobby pin falling out of your hair.'"

At NBC's studios in New York City, she refused to be called "girl." In 1974 she was named Today cohost, the first female to reach that position on a show dominated by men. "After me, every woman was a cohost. I feel very good about that," she said.

03 of 19

Barbara Walters' Interview Style

Hulton Archive/Getty

"I don't get nervous asking questions, not when I'm working," Walters, seen here in a 1965 publicity photo, said. "I have a different kind of confidence — I'm in charge." However, "I spend my life doing coulda, shoulda, woulda," she admitted. "My idea of hell is that I finish the interview, turn off the cameras and then someone asks me, 'Did you ask them such and such?' And I go, 'Ack!' "

04 of 19

Barbara Walters Covers Politics


By 1968, Walters was a member of the team covering both the Democratic and Republican National Party Conventions for the Today show.

05 of 19

Barbara Walters' Marriages

Barbara Walters sits at home with her husband, businessman and theatre producer Lee Guber
Rowland Scherman/Getty Images

Walters married businessman Robert Henry Katz in 1955, though their marriage was annulled in 1957. In 1963, she moved on with theater producer Lee Guber, pictured here at home with Walters. The two divorced, however, in 1976.

06 of 19

Barbara Walters' Daughter Jacqueline

Barbara Walters with Jacqueline Guber
Nancy Barr Brandon/Mediapunch/Shutterstock

Walters and her Guber welcomed 4-day-old daughter Jacqueline, named for the star's late sister, by adoption in 1968. "When you have an adopted child, people can't understand that it's yours," Walters said decades later about 1960s attitudes. "I've said [she's] born in my heart. Maybe not in my uterus, but in my heart." The working mom was busy — that same year, she covered both the Democratic and Republican National Party Conventions for the Today show.

07 of 19

Barbara Walters' Groundbreaking Moments

Barbara Walters At The 2nd Daytime Emmy Awards
Ann Limongello /Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

A year after officially being named Today's first female cohost in a show dominated by men, Walters won a Daytime Emmy in 1975.

08 of 19

Barbara Walters Interviews Richard Nixon


The newswoman, who was part of the press corps that accompanied Richard Nixon on his historic trip to China (here in 1972), also famously interviewed the former president in 1980, his first sit-down since resigning the presidency six years earlier. "He sat with us while we got the cameras ready and told off-color jokes to the crew, trying to be one of the guys. That's [the interview] when he said he was sorry he didn't burn the [Watergate] tapes," she recalled.

09 of 19

Barbara Walters on the ABC Nightly News

Barbara Walters Promotional Photo For ABC News
Barbara Walters in 1976. J Barry O'Rourke /Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

In 1976 Walters left NBC for ABC, becoming the first female co-anchor of a network evening news program, but her on-air relationship with Harry Reasoner, was noticeably tense. "I considered that my biggest failure," Walters told Variety. "I was drowning without a life preserver."

She left the job after two years, eventually joining 20/20, ABC's newsmagazine show, where her interview "gets" included political foes like Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin to the Clinton scandal's Monica Lewinsky.

10 of 19

Barbara Walters and Jimmy Carter


Eight-year-old Jacqueline shared floor space with President-elect Jimmy Carter right before Walters interviewed him and wife Rosalynn Carter for the first Barbara Walters Special in 1976; more than 15 million people tuned in. Her preparation for each special was intense: She'd write 50 to 100 questions on separate index cards then agonize about the order, arranging and rearranging them, and adding and discarding questions, until it was interview time.

11 of 19

Barbara Walters in Cuba


During her 1977 interview with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, "I spent 10 days with him, traveled through the mountains and held his gun in my lap," Walters said. "Though he could be charming, he was also a dictator. People thought we had a romance, but we never did."

12 of 19

Barbara Walters on 20/20

Barbara Walters 20 / 20
Abc News-Tv/Kobal/Shutterstock

On 20/20, Walters and cohost Hugh Downs shared "stories that touch your life," as they'd say on the show.

"From day one, we clicked," Walters said of Downs. "It was a sort of unspoken lovely relationship in the office. The audience felt our affection for each other. We were different kinds of people, different kinds of minds."

The show led to her special, Barbara Walters' 10 Most Fascinating People, which ran annually in December from 1993 to 2015.

13 of 19

Barbara Walters and Merv Adelson

Barbara Walters; Merv Adelson
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Walters' third — and fourth — marriages were to Lorimar Television CEO Merv Adelson. They first wed in 1981, divorcing in 1984; they remarried in 1986 but divorced again in 1992.

14 of 19

Barbara Walters and Katharine Hepburn

Katharine Hepburn And Barbara Walters
Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

When screen legend Katharine Hepburn likened herself to a tree in a 1981 interview, Walters asked the actress to name the species, a question the newswoman would come to regret. From that moment on, Walters said, "I have been accused of asking people what kind of a tree they want to be. I hope that in history's time I will live this down … it actually only happened once."

15 of 19

Barbara Walters' Induction into the Television Academy Hall of Fame

Ron Galella/WireImage

Twenty-year-old Jacqueline was her mom's date when the broadcast legend was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1989. "I never realized that she felt out of place in this world," Walters told Glamour of her daughter's rebellious teen years. "She had a mother of enormous accomplishment, and she felt she could never keep up. I didn't know how difficult it was for her to have a mother who was a celebrity, because I never thought of myself as a celebrity."

16 of 19

Barbara Walters on The View

Barbara Walters
The View panel in 2007. ABC/STEVE FENN

In 1997 Walters created The View, the first morning talk show with four female cohosts — Meredith Vieira, Star Jones, Joy Behar and Debbie Matenopoulos. "Now a lot of people are copying The View," she noted in 2014. "The president of ABC News back in the day told me it would take away from my gravitas to moderate it!"

17 of 19

Barbara Walters and Barack Obama

Lou Rocco/ABC/Getty

In May 2012, President Barack Obama visited The View, with Walters there to help run the interview.

18 of 19

Barbara Walters on Retiring

Richard Perry/The New York Times

"I wanted to leave while people would say, 'She will be missed,' rather than, 'Is she still here?'" Walters said of retirement. "This doesn't mean I will never come on TV again, but … I won't be Frank Sinatra with his 18th comeback. I can't imagine what it's going to be like — I've worked ever since I graduated from college. But I made the decision and I'll keep the decision."

19 of 19

Barbara Walters Dies

Barbara Walters
Mireya Acierto/Getty Images

On Dec. 30, PEOPLE confirmed Walters had died at the age of 93. "[She] passed away peacefully in her home surrounded by loved ones," her representative Cindi Berger shared. "She lived her life with no regrets. She was a trailblazer not only for female journalists, but for all women."

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