Television journalist Barbara Walters is retiring today. When we hear her name, we may first think of her interviews with “fascinating” celebrities and of her reign at The View. But before that, Barbara played a major role in trailblazing opportunities for woman. In the early 1960s, before the Women’s Movement, it was believed that women wouldn’t be taken seriously reporting “hard news.” Barbara fought that stereotype by first appearing on The Today Show as the regular “Today Girl”, handling light assignments and the weather—the only place for a woman on television news. She says that back then “there was no glass ceiling—it was steel.” Within a year she had become a reporter-at-large—developing, writing, and editing her own reports and interviews. Although an important contributor at Today, she wasn’t made the first female co-host until 1974. Two years later, at ABC, Barbara became the first female co-anchor of any network evening news (to the open dismay of the male anchor). In 1977, she achieved a joint interview with Egypt’s President, Anwar Al Sadat, and Israel’s Prime Minister, Menachem Begin that started her on the path as a prime interviewer of powerful and controversial world leaders.
Even though Barbara is retiring today, I have a feeling it’s not the last we’ll be seeing of this pushy cookie.
Barbara Walters Quotes:
• I was the kind nobody thought could make it. I had a funny Boston accent. I couldn’t pronounce my R’s. I wasn’t a beauty.
• If it’s a woman it’s caustic, if it’s a man it’s authoritative. If it’s a woman it’s too pushy, if it’s a man it’s aggressive in the best sense of the word.
• Most of us have trouble juggling. The woman who says she doesn’t is someone whom I admire but have never met.
• I got the reputation of being a good journalist, but also of being a pushy cookie.
• Success can make you go one of two ways. It can make you a prima donna, or it can smooth the edges, take away the insecurities, let the nice things come out.
• To feel valued, to know, even if only once in a while, that you can do a job well is an absolutely marvelous feeling.
If you’d like to hear from Barbara Walters about her struggles against discrimination and her true feelings about “Baba Wawa,” go here for interview videos.