Iconic journalist and TV news anchor Barbara Walters passed away on Thursday at the age of 93.
ABC broke into its broadcast to announce Walters’ death on air Friday night.
“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,” Walters’ spokesperson Cindi Berger said in a statement.
“Barbara was a true legend, a pioneer not just for women in journalism but for journalism itself,” Bob Iger, the CEO of ABC parent The Walt Disney Company, said.
Walters began her national broadcast career in 1961 as a reporter, writer, and panel member for NBC’s “Today” show before being promoted to co-host in 1974. In 1976, Walters joined ABC News as the first female anchor on an evening news program.
During nearly four decades at ABC, and before that at NBC, Walters’ exclusive interviews with rulers, royalty, and entertainers brought her celebrity status that ranked with theirs, while placing her at the forefront of the trend that made stars of TV reporters.
Her shows, some of which she produced, were some of the highest-rated of their type and spawned a number of imitators. Indeed, “The View” – which debuted in 1997 – paved the way for American talk shows “The Talk” and “The Chew,” as well as such entries as Britain’s “Loose Women” and Norway’s “Studio5.”
“I never expected this!” Walters said in 2004, taking stock 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.”
Walters left “The View” in 2014, but remained a part-time contributor to ABC News for two years.
“I knew it was time,” Walters told CNN’s Chris Cuomo at the time. “I like all the celebration, that’s great, but in my heart, I thought, ‘I want to walk away while I’m still doing good work.’ So I will.”