Barbara Walters

Anchor / Correspondent / Producer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

Barbara Walters credits her drive to her early years. "Because my father was in show business and because there were these ups and downs, I always felt that I had to work to take care of myself," she says about being the daughter of a prominent New York nightclub owner. In her interview, Walters elaborates on the discipline and work ethic that has defined her broadcast career. She looks back upon her earliest work as a producer of the show Ask The Camera, at WNBT in New York, and later, her move to WPIX in New York where she worked for The Morning Show. She discusses being hired at WNBT in New York as the sole female writer on the Today show, and recalls her occasional forays in front of the camera during location segments. She speaks about the impact of the coverage of President Kennedy's assassination on television, and the role she played in reporting the national tragedy.  She talks at length about her preparation for interviews, and how involved she is in the process of not only writing and producing her segments but also in editing them. Walters discusses her much publicized transition from NBC to ABC in the mid-1970s, and the controversy over her then-unparalleled $1-million contract. She explains her collaboration with Harry Reasoner on ABC's Evening News , and her much more fulfilling work later on 20/20 , alongside a long-time colleague, Hugh Downs. She also talks about many of the interviews that she has conducted throughout her career, with such notables including Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon, John Wayne, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Fidel Castro, the Shah of Iran, Christopher Reeve, Monica Lewinsky and John and Patty Ramsey. Finally, she describes her then-recent efforts on the ABC morning show The View. Don Carleton conducted the interview on May 23, 2000 in New York, NY.

"If you're in the news business you do not give your personal opinions about major issues... The line between that seems to be blurred... I do think that we have to show some kind of objectivity and I'm not sure that it's happening."  

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Barbara Walters on her approach to interviewing
Barbara Walters on her role on the Today show
Barbara Walters on women in television and what she tells women who want to follow in her footsteps
Barbara Walters on coming to terms with Gilda Radner's "Baba Wawa" impression
Barbara Walters on objectivity for journalists
Barbara Walters on how she secures interviews and some of the interviews she treasures
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her early years; on her father Lou Walters, a nightclub owner; her family life and her early encounters with celebrities at her father's club
On wanting to be an actress when she grew up; her education; her first job in television 
On her early television work, including her brief first appearance on-camera
On joining the Today show and moving up the ranks to a reporter

Chapter 2

On her first assignment overseas covering Jacqueline Kennedy's trip for the Today show
On how she prepares for her broadcasts and her interviews
On Hugh Downs joining the Today show; on Maureen O'Sullivan's short tenure on the Today show
On being promoted to a regular reporter on the Today show and how she eventually was given the title of co-host
On covering John F. Kennedy's funeral; on meeting Robert Kennedy

Chapter 3

On interviewing various personalities (Truman Capote, Luci Baines Johnson, Rose Kennedy, Grace Kelly)
On interviewing Lady Bird Johnson, Mamie Eisenhower, and the Nixon family, Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh, and Henry Kissinger
On traveling to China with President Nixon
On interviewing Fidel Castro, Golda Meir, Moshe Dayan, and Anwar Sadat
On moving from NBC to ABC and the criticism she faced; her take on Gilda Radner's "Baba Wawa" character

Chapter 4

On her historic joint interview with Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin
On securing interviews
On joining 20/20
On her interview with Monica Lewinsky
On the prevalence of media outlets
On The View
On journalism
On interviewing the Shah of Iran
On interviews she couldn't get and what she believes to be her greatest accomplishment
Shows

20/20

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Barbara Walters on joining 20/20

ABC News

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Barbara Walters on joining ABC news and the challenges she faced

Ask the Camera

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Barbara Walters on producing the local New York WNBT show, Ask the Camera

Igor Cassini Show

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Barbara Walters on working on the short-lived "Igor Cassini Show" on WNBT

Morning Show, The

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Barbara Walters on working on CBS' The Morning Show with Will Rogers, Jr. (1956-1957) -- her first onscreen TV appearance

Today

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Barbara Walters on joining the Today show and her first assignments there as a writer, and later as a reporter
Barbara Walters on the live aspect of the Today show and the excitement of live television in general
Barbara Walters on working with host Dave Garroway on the Today show
Barbara Walters on her Today show colleagues: Frank Blair, Jack Lescoulie, Joe Garagiola, John Chancellor, Ed Newman, and Hugh Downs
Barbara Walters on covering first-lady Jacqueline Kennedy's overseas trip for the Today show
Barbara Walters on her rise to becoming co-host of the Today show

View, The

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Barbara Walters on how The View came about
Topics

Bill Clinton

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Barbara Walters on interviewing Monica Lewinsky

Characters & Catchphrases

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Barbara Walters on Gilda Radner's Saturday Night Live character "Baba Wawa"

JFK Assassination and Funeral

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Barbara Walters on John F. Kennedy's assassination

LGBTQ

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Barbara Walters on interviewing Truman Capote

Lyndon B. Johnson

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Barbara Walters on informally meeting President Lyndon Johnson

Richard M. Nixon

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Barbara Walters on covering Tricia Nixon's White House wedding
Barbara Walters on covering President Nixon's trip to China

Women

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Barbara Walters on being able to "write for men" on the Today show
Barbara Walters on being denied the opportunity to travel overseas for reporting in her early career
Barbara Walters on being the first female network news anchor (she was co-anchor from 1976-1978 on ABC Evening News)
Barbara Walters on the rise of women in television and her advice to women on getting ahead
Professions

Anchor

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Barbara Walters on being the first female network news anchor (she was co-anchor from 1976-1978 on ABC Evening News)
Barbara Walters on the rise of women in television and her advice to women on getting ahead

Journalists & News Producers

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Barbara Walters on her approach to interviewing
Genres

News and Documentary

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Barbara Walters on her approach to interviewing
Barbara Walters on the criticism she took for her record-breaking salary
People

Roone Arledge

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Barbara Walters on Roone Arledge's hiring of Hugh Downs on 20/20
Barbara Walters on working with Roone Arledge

Fred Astaire

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Barbara Walters on the difficulty of interviewing Fred Astaire

Menachem Begin

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Barbara Walters on her joint interview with Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin

Truman Capote

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Barbara Walters on interviewing Truman Capote

Igor Cassini

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Barbara Walters on working on the short-lived "Igor Cassini Show" on WNBT

Fidel Castro

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Barbara Walters on interviewing Fidel Castro

John Chancellor

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Barbara Walters on John Chancellor's discomfort as a Today show host

Walter Cronkite

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Barbara Walters on Walter Cronkite's involvement in securing interviews with Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin

Hugh Downs

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Barbara Walters on Hugh Downs joining the Today show
Barbara Walters on working with Hugh Downs on the Today show
Barbara Walters on her 20/20 co-anchor Hugh Downs

Dave Garroway

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Barbara Walters on Today show colleague Dave Garroway

Katharine Hepburn

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Barbara Walters on interviewing Katharine Hepburn (the one and only time Walters asked the now-famous "what kind of tree" question)

Shah of Iran (Reza Pahlevi)

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Barbara Walters on interviewing the Shah of Iran

Lyndon B. Johnson

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Barbara Walters on informally meeting President Lyndon Johnson

Lady Bird Johnson

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Barbara Walters on interviewing former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson

Luci Baines Johnson

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Barbara Walters on interviewing Luci Johnson

Grace Kelly

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Barbara Walters on interviewing Grace Kelly

Rose Kennedy

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Barbara Walters on interviewing Rose Kennedy

Robert F. Kennedy

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Barbara Walters on Robert Kennedy 

Jacqueline Kennedy

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Barbara Walters on her first overseas reporting assignment, covering then-First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy on her trip to India and Pakistan

Henry Kissinger

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Barbara Walters on interviewing Henry Kissinger

Monica Lewinsky

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Barbara Walters on interviewing Monica Lewinsky

Frank McGee

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Barbara Walters on working with Today show host Frank McGee 

Golda Meir

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Barbara Walters on Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan

Edwin Newman

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Barbara Walters on Edwin Newman's role on the Today show

Richard M. Nixon

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Barbara Walters on interviewing ex-President Richard Nixon
Barbara Walters on covering Tricia Nixon's wedding

Tricia Nixon

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Barbara Walters on covering Tricia Nixon's wedding

Pat Nixon

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Barbara Walters on covering Tricia Nixon's wedding 

Maureen O'Sullivan

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Barbara Walters on actress Maureen O'Sullivan's short-lived job on the Today show

Gilda Radner

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Barbara Walters on Gilda Radner's Saturday Night Live character "Baba Wawa"

Harry Reasoner

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Barbara Walters on working with Harry Reasoner on ABC News

Will Rogers, Jr.

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Barbara Walters on working on CBS' The Morning Show with Will Rogers, Jr. (1956-1957)

Dean Rusk

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Barbara Walters on U.S. Secretary of State (1961-1969) Dean Rusk

Anwar Sadat

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Barbara Walters on Anwar Sadat
Barbara Walters on her joint interview with Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin

George Steinbrenner

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Barbara Walters on meeting George Steinbrenner in Cuba

Lou Walters

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Barbara Walters on the influence of her father, nightclub entrepreneur Lou Walters

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