Broadcast journalist Barbara Walters died on Dec. 30, 2022, at the age of 93. Her cause of death has yet to be confirmed, CNN reported.
Her celebrated career was full of firsts and groundbreaking interviews. The creator of the still-popular morning TV show “The View,” Walters was known for her no-holds-bar interviews with world leaders, from Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Russia’s Vladimir Putin to Barack and Michelle Obama and Richard and Pat Nixon. The interviews were, at the same time, biting and relaxed. She was also known for her one-on-one celebrity interviews. When a celebrity wanted to share their side of a scandal, Walters, who launched her career in 1951, was usually the first journalist they called.
Throughout the years, she interviewed several Black celebrities, among them actor Denzel Washington, Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan, singer Whitney Houston, and civil rights activist Jesse Jackson. Walters, who in 1976 became the first female co-anchor of a network evening news program alongside Harry Reasoner on the ABC Evening News, retired in 2015.
In 1992, Walters interviewed Denzel Washington, who had been nominated for an Oscar for his starring role in the Spike Lee film “Malcolm X.” With Walters, he discussed his breakthrough films, theater roles, TV roles, marriage, and being Black in Hollywood. He also discussed his path to acting.
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“I know that (my mother) never gave up on me. I got kicked out of college, and she didn’t say anything,” he told Walters. “I took a semester off and started reading acting books. That’s when I got into acting.”
Walters sat down with controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan in 1994. In her introduction, she described Farrakhan as “surprisingly soft-spoken.”
During the interview, she asked him about reparations.
“And you want reparations like alimony… you want money paid to every African American?” she asked.
Farrakhan responded, “Why should not America do something to repair the damage that has been done to Black people for over 400 years of oppression?”
Walters then interjected, “By giving the money?”
“Not money. A fool and his money will soon part,” he clarified. “If you gave our people with their mentality today $20,000, $40,000, $100,000, t would go right back out of our community tomorrow. But if we are allowed land and money as a way to become economically self-sufficient, to do for ourselves, to build homes, to build factories, then we would say America is beginning to repair the damage.”
In 1993, Whitney Houston did one of her first “big” sit-down interviews, and one of them was with Walters. The interview touched on tough subjects, including Houston’s sexual preference, drug use, overdose rumors, media rumors and a miscarriage she suffered while she was filming the hit movie “The Bodyguard.”
Houston, who was at the time married to singer Bobby Brown, talked about how the media didn’t give her the “opportunity” to discuss the miscarriage, a personal tragedy, on her own terms.
Democratic presidential hopeful Jesse Jackson spoke with Walters during an interview that aired on the ABC news show “20/20” on April 15, 1984.
President Barack Obama speaks to Barbara Walters during his guest appearance on ABC’s ‘”The View” on July 28, 2010, in New York. Walters, a superstar and pioneer in TV news, has died, according to ABC News on Friday, Dec. 30, 2022. She was 93. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)