Barbara Walters, a trailblazing pioneer who broke gender barriers in broadcast journalism, died yesterday at the age of 93.
Perhaps best known for her remarkable interviewing skills, her list of accolades is monumental and includes winning 12 Emmys for her work; becoming the first female anchor in evening news; launching The View and hosting the annual special Barbara Walters’ 10 Most Fascinating People on ABC; and, as that network maybe put it best, being someone “who shattered the glass ceiling and became a dominant force in an industry once dominated by men.”
In 1974, Walters became cohost of Today—the first woman to hold such a title on an American news show. Two years later, in 1976, she became the first female co-anchor of a network evening news program, hosting the ABC Evening News alongside Harry Reasoner, and from 1979 to 2004, she produced and cohosted 20/20 on ABC. She also created The View for the network in 1997, which she also produced and cohosted, and on which she appeared until her retirement in 2014.
Upon her retirement that year, Walters said “I do not want to appear on another program or climb another mountain. I instead want to sit on a sunny field and admire the very gifted women—and, okay, some men too—who will be taking my place.”
Walters was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1989, and in 2000 received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Oprah Winfrey presented her with the latter award and said of her “had there not been Barbara Walters, surely all of the other women who have followed in her footsteps, including myself, could not stand where we stand and do what we do in this industry today.”
And, despite her impressive resume, opening doors for women who came behind her seems to have been what Walters was most proud of. Speaking in 2014, she said, “people ask me very often, ‘What is your legacy?’ and it’s not the interviews with presidents, or heads of state, nor celebrities. If I have a legacy, and I’ve said this before and I mean it so sincerely, I hope that I played a small role in paving the way for so many of you fabulous women.”