May 15, 2014
      Actors A-Z
      TV Shows
      TV Listings
      TV Blog


Video Gallery
RSS Feed


How Barbara Walters changed the TV game forever
By Bill Harris, QMI Agency

Journalist Barbara Walters aarrives for "A Celebration of Barbara Walters Cocktail Reception" in New York May 14, 2014. Walters is set to retire after more than 5 decades in journalism. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Barbara Walters will just have to get used to The View from home. At 84, that won't be such a bad thing.

But with Walters signing off as a regular on-air contributor to The View (ABC, CTV) and ABC News on Friday, May 16, it got me thinking about her staying power in the face of comic adversity.

Back in the 1970s when Saturday Night Live was the new kid on the block, Gilda Radner started impersonating Walters, accentuating her well-known speech patterns. You know, when Radner's Walters, a.k.a. Baba Wawa, said something was “really, really large,” it came out as “weewy, weewy waaawge,” etc.

Walters, of course, was well established by then, but it speaks volumes about her iconic status that her reputation withstood the jokes. Somehow, despite being joked about, she never became a joke. And there's never a guarantee of that.

In the same era, Dan Aykroyd used to impersonate news anchor and TV personality Tom Snyder, with his trademark loud laugh, and many would argue that Aykroyd's impersonation kind of killed Snyder's career. For whatever reason, Walters could take repeated mockery but viewers continued to confirm her relevance.

Walters has spent more than 50 years in front of TV cameras. She was a groundbreaker on repeated occasions.

She first became known on The Today Show in the 1960s, doing what were deemed to be "women's stories" in that era. But subsequently as a female breaking into the cutthroat, male-dominated news game, by 1976 she had become the first female co-anchor on a U.S. network nightly newscast, working alongside Harry Reasoner on the ABC Evening News.

Then Walters' primetime interview specials saw her chatting with powerful politicians and popular celebrities in a manner that was not previously the norm. Finally, Walters was ahead of the curve yet again when she co-created The View in 1997.

There have been more than 3,800 episodes of The View over 17 seasons, with 11 co-hosts. In addition to Walters the list includes Meredith Vieira, Star Jones, Joy Behar, Debbie Matenopoulos, Lisa Ling, Rosie O’Donnell, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Sherri Shepherd, Jenny McCarthy and Whoopi Goldberg.

Like Walters herself, The View often has been the butt of jokes, but the jokes never have been able to stop it. No one can argue that The View changed TV. It has produced more copies than a Xerox machine.

After Walters says farewell Friday morning on The View, there will be a primetime special Friday night on ABC titled Barbara Walters: Her Story.

And her story is our story, if you've watched TV at all in the past five decades.

Twitter: @billharris_tv


'The Sing-Off' host Nick Lachey still has the "it" factor
Terminator TV series in the works
Paul Rudd, One Direction sing acapella on 'SNL'
'Gretl' from 'Sound of Music' movie bashes Carrie Underwood performance
Reality TV roundup: 'Survivor' suspense and a Kardashian Christmas
'Little Couple' star Jen Arnold has rare cancer
Kim still making waves in 'Hawaii Five-0'
'Bonnie & Clyde' front and centre on three channels
'Curb Appeal' co-host killed in San Francisco motorcycle crash
Super Mario actor Danny Wells dies at 72
More Headlines
Perez Hilton to star in 'Gay Dads of New York' reality show
MSNBC anchor Martin Bashir resigns over Palin remarks
'Futurama' ready for final goodbye
'Wheel of Fortune' calls 'Fast and Furious' puzzle 'unfortunate'
'Mob City' seems very familiar
'Archer' star Jessica Walter says ignorance is bliss
Star Trek: Captain Worf is on the horizon
'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' beginning to take flight
'Family Guy' has nothing to lose
Kutcher, Stewart lead TV's richest stars

Latest Blog Posts
Eric McCormack personally praised for powerfully proper portrayal in Perception
When you’re playing a schizophrenic, it’s nice to know you’re not crazy. From the get-go, Eric McCormack wanted to do an entertaining but believable job playing Dr. Daniel Pierce in Perception, the second season of which is airing Wednesdays ... Read more
From wires to domes to big fake boobs; TV's must-sees for the week of June 23
Top 10 TV must-sees for the week of June 23: 1 Skywire Live with Nik Wallenda Last year his Niagara Falls tightrope walk garnered massive ratings. This time Nik Wallenda crosses a portion of the Grand Canyon, live and without a tether. When: Sunday on ... Read more
Ex-bunny Leah Renee does some "trash talking" about her new sitcom Satisfaction
What a glamorous job Leah Renee has. "The other day, you should have seen me, I was completely covered in garbage," Renee said. Um … that was part of your new show Satisfaction, right? "Yes, I probably should have said that first," Renee said. ... Read more
More blog postings

Latest videos
See more videos

Who's coming and when
Want to know when your favourite band is coming to town? Check out Clive, JAM Music's extensive Canadian concert listings.

Movie Listings
Find out what's playing at a theatre near you.
TV Listings
Wondering what's on tonight? Check out our TV listings for the complete schedule in your area.

Do you think Kanye West should have the book thrown at him for fighting with a photographer?

Results | Story