Born in Boston in 1929, Barbara Walters was a pioneering figure in the world of broadcast journalism.
In addition to being the first woman to co-host a morning news program (The Today Show in 1974) and an evening news program (ABC Evening news in 1976), she created the wildly popular ABC daytime talk show, The View, on which she appeared for more than 15 years. She’s also known for her legendary celebrity interviews and her ability to get some of the most famous people in the world to cry.
Sadly, Walters passed away on December 30th, 2022 at the age of 93.
“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,” her spokesperson Cindi Berger told CNN.
After her retirement, many rumors surrounding Walters’s health began to spread. While no official cause of death has been released as of now, from what we can tell, her years outside of the spotlight were filled with love and joy. Here’s a look at her later years.
Retirement Gave Walters More Time to Spend With Family
Although she was most known for her iconic career, there’s far more to Walters than journalism.
She was married four times to three different men. She shares a beloved daughter, Jacqueline Dena Guber, with her second husband. Although none of her marriages lasted, motherhood was extremely important to her. Shortly before her retirement, she told ABC News that one of her greatest regrets was not spending more time with her daughter.
In 2014, when she was 85 years old and still working on The View, Walters finally decided to call it quits and retire after six decades in the industry. Stepping back from her career gives her the freedom to spend more time with her child. We’re sure she’s taking full advantage of that opportunity.
Retirement also allows Walters to get a little more downtime. In her ABC News interview, she said she planned “to lounge in bed until 3 in the afternoon” on her first day of retirement.
“I have always had a schedule. I’ve always had deadlines. I’ve always had things to do,” she said. “It will be nice to get up and say, ‘What do I have to do today? Nothing!'”
Barbara Walters’ Health Was Largely Speculated On
As she enjoyed her golden years, however, Walters faced some of the challenges that come with aging. Even before her retirement, health had become a concern for her. In 2010, she underwent open-heart surgery to repair a broken aortic valve. The procedure went well and Walters was back to work on The View not long after making a full recovery.
But in retirement, Walters had struggled with issues common to advanced age. Some reports had alleged she was diagnosed with dementia and had experienced a significant cognitive decline in the last few years. However, the claims have never been confirmed by Walters or her representatives.
If this was the case, we know it’s likely that Walter’s daughter was by her mom’s side. In a 2014 interview on Oprah’s Master Class, the 20/20 star said:
“My daughter said to me recently, ‘Mom, when you have Alzheimer’s, you can come down and live with me. Not if you have Alzheimer’s, but, Mom, when you have Alzheimer’s.’ I take that as a very loving compliment.”
Retirement Didn’t Mean She Stepped Away From Public Life Entirely
Just because she was retired didn’t mean Walters was out of the spotlight permanently. She continued to take on projects she was passionate about.
Walters kept her hosting gig for 10 Most Fascinating People series in 2014 and 2015. She also hosted a documentary series, American Scandals, on Investigation Discovery in 2015.
20/20 pulled her out of retirement for special episodes in 2014 and 2015, with special guests including Donald and Melania Trump. Her final on-air interview to date was with then-presidential candidate Donald Trump in December 2015.
She also took advantage of her retirement to give back to the community. She donated $15 million to her alma mater, Sarah Lawrence College, to build the Barbara Walters Campus Center. The center opened in 2019, offering space for social and academic gatherings as well as a fine art gallery and a reading room featuring the Barbara Walters archives.
Walters also received well-deserved accolades in her retirement.
The Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School honored her in “A Conversation With Barbara Walters” in October 2014. Hosted by Co-Director of the Center for Public Leadership David Gergen, she discussed her experiences as a woman in journalism and her most notable interviews.
Barbara Walters lived a full life both during her career and after her retirement. She will be long remembered for her contributions to the world of journalism, especially for women. We wish her family the best.