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Barbara Walters, a First Amongst TV Newswomen, Is Dead at 93


The writers of “S.N.L.” were removed from her only critics. Many objected to Ms. Walters’s cozy, at times cloying manner with guests, in addition to her apparent determination to bring her interviewees to tears. Ms. Walters even made Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, the commander of allied forces within the Persian Gulf war, cry when she asked about his father in 1991.

However the rankings were at all times on her side.

Ms. Walters said she had inherited each her ambition and her insecurities from her father, Lou Walters, a Boston booking agent and vaudeville impresario who founded the Latin Quarter nightclubs in Boston, Latest York and Miami and whose fortunes rose and fell, dragging the family from Florida manors and penthouse apartments on the Upper East Side of Manhattan to shabby rentals in Miami.

“I used to be sufficiently old to acknowledge how other families lived, and so they weren’t like mine,” she wrote.

Barbara Walters was born in Boston to Mr. Walters and Dena (Seletsky) Walters on Sept. 25, 1929. In her memoir she wrote that her father, though “not especially good-looking,” exuded a “certain elegance,” being at all times “impeccably dressed” and having retained his English accent — “very appealing then as now.” Her mother — “quite striking,” she wrote — had been working in a men’s neckwear store when she met her future husband. The couple — each were children of Jewish immigrants who had fled anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe — remained married for nearly 60 years despite a “torturous relationship,” Ms. Walters wrote.

Barbara attended private schools in Latest York and public schools in Miami. There have been trips to Europe and Broadway openings; there was hobnobbing with celebrities; there have been also tax collectors who seized the family automotive, the furniture and even the dining room chandelier. Her childhood, she said, was shaped by her complicated relationship along with her elder sister, Jacqueline, who was mentally disabled. She died in 1985.

When Ms. Walters graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1951 with a level in English, her father was broke again, and she or he needed to search out a job to support her parents and her sister. “I desired to be normal,” she once told Newsweek. “I desired to make the wedding and have the youngsters and be one among the favored girls.”

Like many ladies of her time and education, she began as a secretary, at a public relations firm. That led to a stint within the publicity department of CBS after which a writing job on “The Morning Show,” where Ms. Walters was occasionally brought out of the writers’ room: once in a showering suit when a model ran late, one other time to interview survivors of the wreck of the Italian luxury liner Andrea Doria.

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