On a chilly spring evening in 2012, I was walking through Lincoln Square in NYC on my way home from work and there she was: The legendary Barbara Walters, being helped out of a car and rushed into a movie theater for a premiere. And yes, let me alleviate your fears: She is just as majestic in person as you might hope she’d be.
But now, Walters is about to retire from The View and take a step back. Although she’s promised to keep her hands in the biz as she executive produces on the show and steps in to do special reports on ABC News from time to time, news will never be the same without her.
And before we begin to fathom what raising our children in a world without Babs at the helm of every major news and entertainment story will be like, we need to take a step back and admire the incredible career she’s had since it first began over fifty years ago. Here are some of Walters’ most iconic moments before she forces us to say goodbye:
Interviewing Monica Lewinsky
Before Lewinsky was ready to lay it all on the line, Walters had a crack at her in March 1999 after the whole President Clinton scandal. And in her interview, she doesn’t hold anything back. “Where was your self respect? Where was your self esteem?” Walters wonders aloud. Is anyone else quite that blunt in an interview? No, no, they are not, and that’s why we will miss Walters infinitely.
Every annual episode of 10 Most Fascinating People
Certain things happen at the end of every year: Sparkly dresses are bought, champagne is poured, the clock ticks over from December 31 to January 1 of the new year, and Barbara Walters broadcasts her famous 10 Most Fascinating People special. It’s just the way it’s done.
And while I’m not sure if her retirement means an end to the specials, it’s definitely one of the most memorable things about Walters. For 20 solid years, Walters has closed out each year interviewing the most interesting people in news and entertainment — including everyone from Jennifer Lawrence and Miley Cyrus to Maya Angelou. Ending a year without finding out the ten people Walters is most fascinated by? It would be like the ball never dropped.
Walters points out the Kardashian family has no talent… to their faces.
I am personally enamored by the entire Kardashian family (including Lord Disick, the best one of all), but I understand not everyone shares these feelings. When Barbara sat down with the famous fam in 2011 and flat out stated that they had no talent? That’s a move only Baba Wawa could pull off.
“You don’t really act, you don’t sing, you don’t dance, you don’t have any — forgive me — any talent,” Walters says candidly.
Total hero status right there.
Interviewing Fidel Castro
First of all, not many people get the opportunity — or would even take the opportunity — to sit down with one of the most famous dictators in recent history, but Walters hit the ground running. It’s not even just that he was a dictator, but Castro was a relatively intimidating person in general. But Walters didn’t care. Instead, she took on that interview in 1977 (and then again in 2002) like the #bossbitch she is.
And only Walters could sit down with Castro, withstand romance rumors, and dispel them so blithely. “I spent 10 days with him, traveled through the mountains, and held his gun in my lap,” she said. “People thought we had a romance, but we never did.”
Walters Stands Up For Herself On The View
If there’s one thing you can’t do to Barbara Walters, it’s mar her perpetually composed reputation. So when John Edwards’ mistress, Rielle Hunter, tried to spread rumors that Walters had screamed at her, Babs was quick to call her out on The View for her lies.
“In 30 years of doing interviews, I’ve never screamed at anyone. I make people cry, but I don’t scream, and I have no idea what you mean by bullying,” Barbara said. Take that.
Walters Brings Oprah to Tears
Walters' 2010 interview with Oprah was one of the best TV interviews ever. Two women who are both the masters in their fields having a conversation about some pretty personal issues? Amazing. Watching the interviewing tables being flipped on Oprah was almost magical, especially when Walters got her to open up enough to cry (as she’s done to so many others) while talking about her best friend, Gayle King. In the words of Oprah, “Tissue, please!”
Because when Oprah cries, the world cries with her. Props, Barbara!
Image: Courtesy of ABC Archives