BARBARA WALTERS

 

by Tim Sullivan

Today's fierce female is the iconic Barbara Walters.

Born in Boston in 1929, after working as a writer for CBS and Redbook, Barbara joined the Today Show as a researcher, before winding up as the "Today Girl," a fluffy assignment where her highest-profile role was to read the weather. She continued to pitch stories and serious pieces, managing to get a number of them on the air. The show's host, Frank McGee, refused to hold joint interviews with her unless he were allowed to ask the first three questions. When he died in 1974, Barbara replaced him as the first female co-host of the Today Show.

Two years later, she began her career at ABC, co-hosting the Evening News with Harry Reasoner. Harry was so visibly hostile to Barbara and having a female co-host that it prompted none other than John Wayne to send her a note reading "Don't let the bastards get you down."

Her interviewing skills and ability to get exclusives became the stuff of legend - there's hardly a single major world leader that did not sit down with Barbara over the course of the next 30 years. She was notably tough on Fidel Castro in 1977 in an interview that helped Americans get an inside view of the dictator's personality. Her interview with Monica Lewinsky in 1999 remains the highest rated news program in history, with 74 million viewers.

She co-founded the View in 1997, a talk show dedicated to emboldening female voices and perspectives on current topics. At times controversial, it has become an indisputable platform for its female co-hosts and has regularly helped guide the national dialogue on political issues.

She retired in 2014, occasionally hosting specials and one-off interviews.

"Show me someone who never gossips, and I will show you someone who is not interested in people."

"If it's a woman, it's caustic; if it's a man, it's authoritative."

"Deep breaths are very helpful at shallow parties."

"It would be nice to feel that we are a better world, a world of more compassion and a world of more humanity, and to believe in the basic goodness of man."

"I have affected the way women are regarded, and that's important to me."

"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."

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