Barbara Walters, the groundbreaking television news broadcaster who became a legendary force in media in an industry once dominated by men, has died at the age of 93.
“Barbara Walters passed away peacefully in her home surrounded by loved ones. She lived her life with no regrets,” a rep for Walters said in a statement to Rolling Stone. “She was a trailblazer not only for female journalists, but for all women.”
Walter’s career spanned five decades, during which she won 12 Emmy awards, and joined the ABC News team in 1976, becoming the first female anchor on an evening news program. Three years later, she became the co-host of 20/20, and in 1997, she launched The View, where she made her final appearance as a co-host in 2014. Walters remained an executive producer on The View and continued to conduct interviews and special features for ABC News.
Barbara Jill Walters was born in Boston on Sept. 25, 1929, to Dena and Louis “Lou” Walters. She grew up around celebrities who taught Barbara a valuable lesson that she relied upon throughout her rise in a growing and challenging media industry.
“I would see them onstage looking one way and offstage often looking very different. I would hear my parents talk about them and know that even though those performers were very special people, they were also human beings with real-life problems,” Walters shared in a 1989 interview with the Television Academy of Arts & Sciences, according to ABC News. “I can have respect and admiration for famous people, but I have never had a sense of fear or awe.”
She received her degree in English from Sarah Lawrence College. Upon graduating she worked at an NBC affiliate in New York City writing press releases. In 1953, she got her start as a producer, creating a 15-minute children’s program called Ask the Camera. Then 1955 was brought on CBS’ The Morning Show as a writer.
Walter would become an official co-host on the morning show in 1974 after the death of Frank McGee. Then in 1976, she became the first woman to host an evening new show when she coanchored the ABC Evening News with Harry Reasoner until 1978.
Walters’ impact on journalism spanned generations. She married the Broadway producer Lee Guber, and their grandson, Noah Shachtman, became Rolling Stone’s editor-in-chief in 2021. “Barbara was tough, brilliant, charming, erudite, and, above all, fearless,” said Shachtman.
“I’ll never know how kind she was to my mom, or how wickedly funny she could be. In many ways, the Barbara you’d see at holidays was the same Barbara you’d watch on TV,” he added. “She’d stare into your eyes, and ask you these questions that burrow right into your soul’s deepest cracks. It was equal parts interrogation and act of love. Was she an inspiration? You’re damn right she was.”
Barbara Walters is survived by her daughter Jackie, named for her older sister.