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Barbara Walters becomes highest-paid journalist

October 4, 1976
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Barbara Walters has probably interviewed more statesmen and stars than any other journalist in history. Her numerous and timely TV interviews, both on the weekly newsmagazine 20/20 and on The Barbara Walters Specials, read like a "Who's Who" of newsmakers.

Institution: Private collection


On October 4, 1976, Barbara Walters became the first woman co-anchor of a major network evening news program. Joining Harry Reasoner, on the ABC evening news, she became the highest paid journalist, male or female, up to that time. Reasoner, however, made it clear that he did not want to work with a co-anchor, and Walters only stayed with the show for a year and a half.

Before joining ABC, Walters worked on NBC’s Today Show for fifteen years. Beginning as a writer, she became the program’s first female co-host in 1974. After leaving the nightly news, Walters worked in numerous capacities for ABC, including as host of the Barbara Walters Specials featuring interviews with prominent show business figures. In 1984, Walters became co-host of 20/20 news magazine where she remained until September 2004.

Walters is renowned for her interviewing skills, and has interviewed every American President and First Lady since Richard and Pat Nixon. In November 1977 she arranged the first joint interview with Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat and Israel’s Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Another “first” was her hour-long prime time interview with Fidel Castro, which has since been printed in half a dozen languages and shown all over the world. Today Walters is co-owner, co-executive producer, and co-host of The View on ABC. She published her best-selling memoir, Audition, in 2008 and hosts a weekly radio program on Sirius Radio. On September 21, 2009, Walters was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 30th Annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards at New York City's Lincoln Center.

To learn more about Barbara Walters, visit Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia.

See also: Television in the United States.

Sources: Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, pp. 1451-1453; abc.go.com/daytime/theview/cohosts.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "This Week in History - Barbara Walters becomes highest-paid journalist." (Viewed on April 19, 2014) <http://jwa.org/thisweek/oct/04/1976/barbara-walters>.