Barbara Walters, the first female anchor of an American network nightly news show and one of TV’s most renowned interviewers, passed away on Friday at the age of 93, according to her longtime ABC News home. She was one of the most well-known women on American television, Reuters reports.
Robert Iger, CEO of ABC’s corporate company, The Walt Disney Co., announced in a statement that Walters, who founded the well-known ABC women’s chat show “The View” in 1997, passed away at her home in New York. The details of her demise were not disclosed.
“Barbara was a true legend, a pioneer not just for women in journalism but for journalism itself,” Iger wrote.
Over the course of a five-decade broadcasting career, Walters spoke with a wide range of world leaders, including Fidel Castro of Cuba, Margaret Thatcher of Britain, Moammar Gadhafi of Libya, Saddam Hussein of Iraq, Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin of Russia, and every president and first lady of the United States since Richard Nixon, Reuters says.
A significant component of Walters’ resume was celebrity interviews, and for 29 years she led a pre-Oscars interview show with Academy Award candidates. She also hosted an annual “most intriguing people” presentation, but she stopped doing it after deciding she was tired of talking to famous people.
Walters rose to prominence to the point that her star power occasionally eclipsed the subjects of her inquiries. The New York Times referred to her as “arguably America’s most well-known television personality,” but added that “Barbara Walters is what we remember most about a Barbara Walters interview.”
She could be frank, like when she asked Martha Stewart, the lifestyle expert who was sentenced to prison for insider stock trading, “Martha, why do so many people hate you?” but some occasionally thought her to be cloying.
According to ABC News, Barbara Walters won 12 Emmy honors total, including 11 during her time with the network.