Walters was the first female co-anchor of a network evening news program, launched a beloved daytime talk show and shattered the glass ceiling for women in TV news.

NEW YORK — Barbara Walters, the legendary journalist known for being the first female co-anchor of a network evening news program, her celebrity interview specials and for launching what is now one of the most popular daytime talk shows, has died. She was 93. 

Walters’ death was announced by ABC News on air Friday night and also by her publicist.

“Barbara Walters passed away peacefully in her home surrounded by loved ones. She lived her life with no regrets. She was a trailblazer not only for female journalists, but for all women,” said publicist Cindi Berger in a statement.

Barbara Jill Walters was born on Sept. 25, 1929, in Boston. Walters had two siblings. Her brother, Burton, died of pneumonia in 1932. Her sister, Jacqueline, was developmentally disabled and died in 1985. 

She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in New York in 1951 with a bachelor’s degree in English. 

After working at an NBC affiliate station, Walters made her way to CBS and eventually to NBC’s “TODAY” show as a writer. She would work her way up the ladder to co-host the program with Hugh Downs. 

Walters made headlines in 1976 as the first female network news anchor, with an unprecedented $1 million annual salary that drew gasps. Her drive was legendary as she competed — not just with rival networks, but with colleagues at her own network — for each big “get” in a world jammed with more and more interviewers, including female journalists who followed the trail she blazed.

“I never expected this!” Walters said in 2004, taking measure of her success. “I always thought I’d be a writer for television. I never even thought I’d be in front of a camera.”

In 1979, she tackled a new role — a correspondent on ABC’s newsmagazine “20/20.” Five years later, she would become co-host, again with Hugh Downs. 

Beyond her journalism chops, Walters was known for her interview style, which included very direct questions no matter who she was talking to. This made her primetime “Barbara Walters Specials” high-interest watching as she would pull few punches with celebrity guests and other notable world figures. 

Walters interviewed presidents and first ladies from the Nixons to the Obamas. She also talked to hardline leaders including Cuba’s Fidel Castro, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. 

In 1977, she interviewed Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Two years later, Begin and Sadat would sign a historic peace treaty. She also interviewed former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the Dalai Lama. 

She was the first person to interview actor Christopher Reeve after a 1995 horseriding accident left him paralyzed. In 1999, she got the first interview with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, who had an affair with President Bill Clinton. 

While still on “20/20,” Walters launched into another venture in 1997, “The View,” creating a daytime talk show featuring an all-female hosting panel. 

The live ABC weekday show was a side venture and unexpected hit. Walters considered “The View” the “dessert” of her career.

“I’ve always wanted to do a show with women of different generations, backgrounds and views,” Walters said in the open of the first episode. “A working mom (Meredith Vieira). A professional in her 30s (Star Jones). A 22-year-old just starting out (Debbie Matenopolous). And then somebody who’s done almost everything and will say almost anything (Joy Behar).”

In May 2014, she taped her final episode of “The View” amid much ceremony and a gathering of scores of luminaries to end a five-decade career in television (although she continued to make occasional TV appearances after that). During a commercial break, a throng of TV newswomen she had paved the way for — including Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Robin Roberts and Connie Chung — posed with her for a group portrait.

Walters won three Emmys, once for hosting “TODAY” and twice for “The View.” She was also presented with a lifetime achievement award from the academy. 

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Walters received that thanks to the comic relief of “Saturday Night Live.” Gilda Radner’s “Baba Wawa” in the late 1970s was a loosely-based version of Walters. Two decades later, “SNL’s” Cheri Oteri would do a more straight-up take, dialing up Walter’s mannerisms a tick. It culminated with this segment of Walters interviewing Oteri (as Walters) on her final episode of “The View.”

Walters was married four times, including twice to the same man. In an interview with ABC News ahead of her retirement, Walters said she often put her career first. 

“It may be that my career was just too important. It may have been that I was a difficult person to be married to, and I just seem to be better alone. I’m not lonely, I’m alone,” she said. 

Walters revealed she suffered a number of miscarriages. She adopted a baby girl with then-husband Lee Gruber. They named her Jackie, after Walters’ sister. Walters told Piers Morgan in 2013 that she regretted not having more children. 

“I hope that I will be remembered as a good and courageous journalist. I hope that some of my interviews, not created history, but were witness to history, although I know that title has been used,” Walters told the AP upon her retirement from “The View.” “I think that when I look at what I have done, I have a great sense of accomplishment. I don’t want to sound proud and haughty, but I think I’ve had just a wonderful career and I’m so thrilled that I have.”

Frazier Moore with The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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