TV icon Barbara Walters, who was the first female anchor on an American network evening news broadcast and one of TV’s most prominent interviewers passed away on Friday at age 93, her longtime ABC News home said.
Legendary actor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ex-wife Maria Shriver recently took to her Instagram account and posted a video clip of Walters and wrote the following in the caption:
“Barbara Walters was a trailblazer. She was a mentor to me, as well as a friend. So many women broke into the news business because she did her job well. She worked so hard, and she helped a lot of younger women, such as myself. Thank you, Barbara for everything. You paved the way for all of us. You truly did! May your legacy continue, and may you know how much you meant to each and every woman who you inspired. #abovethenoise”
Barbara Walters passes away
Walters, who created the popular ABC women’s talk show “The View” in 1997, passed away at her home in New York, Robert Iger, chief executive of ABC’s corporate parent, The Walt Disney Co., said in a statement. The circumstances of her death were not given.
“Barbara was a true legend, a pioneer not just for women in journalism but for journalism itself,” Iger wrote.
In a broadcast career spanning five decades, Walters interviewed an array of world leaders, including Cuba’s Fidel Castro, Britain’s Margaret Thatcher, Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi, Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein, Russian presidents Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin, and every U.S. president and first lady since Richard and Pat Nixon.
Walters’ critics said she too often asked softball questions and she was long skewered for a 1981 interview in which she asked Hollywood actress Katharine Hepburn what kind of tree she would like to be.
Walters pointed out that she only asked because Hepburn had first compared herself to a tree.
Celebrity interviews also were an important part of Walters’ repertoire, and for 29 years she hosted a pre-Oscars interview program featuring Academy Award nominees. She also had an annual “most fascinating people” show but dropped it when she decided she was weary of celebrity interviews.