Barbara Walters: Changing The Face Of Television News

By Linda Speckhals
American broadcast journalist Barbara Walters looks at film negatives with an unidentified man behind the scenes at NBC Studios, New York, New York, 1966. (Photo by Rowland Scherman/Getty Images)

Although she inspired Gilda Radner’s caricature on Saturday Night Live, “Baba Wawa,” and her interview with Katharine Hepburn has been lampooned because Walters asked the question “if you were a tree, what kind would you be?” (much later, it was revealed that this was a follow-up question to Hepburn’s statement that she would like to be a tree), Walters had a tremendous impact on the news.

Born on September 25, 1929 in Boston, Walters was around celebrities at a very young age. Her father Louis managed the Latin Quarter nightclub in Boston, and later opened the New York version of the club. He was also a Broadway producer, producing the Ziegfeld Follies of 1943. Louis took Walters to dress rehearsals, where the actresses and dancers would fawn over her. Because of this early exposure, Walters was not in awe of celebrities.