Barbara Walters, 84, from Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Legendary broadcast journalist and, as of a couple of weeks ago, one of the coolest pensioners you’ll ever meet.
Walters started her telly career in the publicity department of a local news network in New York. She was then selected to move onto the production side and began writing and reporting stories. She started presenting the National Broadcasting Company (NBC)’s Today Show in 1974, making her the first female morning show co-host. She then moved over to the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) in 1976 as the first woman co-presenter of the network news. She retired this month from a triumphant fifty-year career, presenting her final episode of the popular TV talk show The View. So what does Walters put her success in journalism down to? “I could write,” she recently told Makers. “And I don’t very often have to go to the bathroom.”
WHY SHE’S A WONDER WOMAN
Using her trademark style of ‘personality journalism’, Walters has wrangled interviews with some seriously big names, like Margaret Thatcher, the president of Syria Bashar al-Assad, and every US president and first lady from the Nixons to the Obamas. She has inspired countless women journalists not only to get in front of the cameras, but to stay there as they get older rather than retreating at the first signs of middle age.
LEAST LIKELY TO SAY
“Accept friend request”. On an episode of her TV talk show The View, Walters reportedly said of social networking: “People want to be my friend. I don’t want them. My ex-husband wanted to be my friend. I don’t need more friends.” On Twitter, Babs is followed by more than a million accounts – more than the First Lady of the United States – and herself is following 19.
WHO’D PLAY HER IN ‘THE VIEW’, THE MOVIE
Comedian Cheri Oteri. Any questions?
BEST KNOWN FOR
Her no-nonsense demeanour, great sense of humour and boundless journalistic curiosity. Every year, Walters compiles and presents a list of public figures who are, in her view, the year’s ‘10 Most Fascinating People’. This list has featured people as diverse as JK Rowling, Steve Jobs, the Kardashians and Justin Bieber, and in 2013 it included an infant.
A number of things, but she reserves a special kind of hatred for The Bachelor. Back in 2012, she said that she had “lost an hour of [her] life” watching the reality dating programme and that she was “deeply offended” by it. “I just have to say that I love ABC [the network that carries The View], and I’m very happily employed, but I think this show is such a degradation to women,” she told her co-hosts.
WHERE SHE’LL BE RETIRING TO
CNN? The Daily Mail reported that Walters is already being pursued by the American news network, which is one of ABC’s competitors. The rumours have been pooh-poohed, but it’s unlikely that you’ll find Walters taking out a timeshare in Florida any time soon. She’ll continue to executive produce The View in her retirement, and there are a few more interviews she’d like to do. Who next? The Pope, she hopes.
BEST QUOTES EVER
With her great turn of phrase and lightning wit, Barbara is probably the only journalist who’s as widely quoted as the public figures she interviews. Here’s a couple of gems:
“Work harder than everybody. You’re not going to get it by whining, and you’re not going to get it by shouting, and you’re not going to get it by quitting. You’re going to get it by being there.”
“Motherhood is tough. If you just want a wonderful little creature to love, you can get a puppy.”
“Show me someone who never gossips, and I’ll show you someone who is not interested in people.”