Barbara Walters has died at the age of 93. Born in 1929, Walters grew up in New York and went on to attend Sarah Lawrence College. After graduating with a degree in English, Walters briefly worked as a writer for CBS News before being hired by NBC’s Today as a writer and researcher in 1961. Walters moved up the ranks, reporting on the weather and covering various features. Eventually, she became Today’s first female cohost alongside Hugh Downs and Frank McGee. The broadcast journalist went on to co-anchor the ABC Evening News in 1976. Three years after that, she joined 20/20.
During her years at 20/20, Walters interviewed world leaders and notable celebrities such as Vladimir Putin, Fidel Castro, Patrick Swayze, Oprah Winfrey, and more. In 1997, Walters created the daytime talk show The View. She frequently appeared as a cohost until she retired from the program in 2014.
Walters’s trailblazing career inspired many women—including Oprah. Walters herself spoke openly about facing sexism early in her career. In 2015, she appeared on Oprah’s Master Class on OWN and talked about how she refused to back down when she wasn’t accepted. “Some people admired it. Others said, ‘She’s rude.’ On the one hand, it made me more valuable; on the other hand, I got the reputation as being a pushy cookie. ‘There goes that pushy cookie.’”
In a statement to People, Walters’s representative Cindi Berger said, “Barbara Walters passed away peacefully in her home surrounded by loved ones. She lived her life with no regrets. She was a trailblazer not only for female journalists, but for all women.”
Upon learning of her passing, Oprah said, “Without Barbara Walters, there wouldn’t have been me—nor every other woman you see on evening, morning, and daily news. She was indeed a Trailblazer. I did my very first television audition with her in mind the whole time. Grateful that she was such a powerful and gracious role model. Grateful to have known her. Grateful to have followed in her Light.”
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