Speed Reads

An ode to Baba Wawa

Barbara Walters is utterly infectious during one of her first on-air appearances in 1961


Barbara Walters retires from The View and on-air work today, capping a six-decade, ceiling-busting career in broadcast journalism. When Walters first joined NBC in the early 1960s, she was relegated to lighter news segments as a regular "Today Girl," a role she ridiculed as "tea pourer." But within a year she became a reporter-at-large, and in 1963 a co-host of the Today Show (although she wouldn't officially be given the historic title of first female co-host of the program until 1974).

In the decades that followed Walters would secure prestigious interviews, win numerous awards, and build a brand as host that put a premium on listening. That Walters is so easily, if respectfully, mocked in spoofs and Saturday Night Live skits only confirms her influence in the male-dominated broadcast industry. She has inspired countless female journalists (including this one, who highly recommends reading her memoir Audition) and will continue to do so long after her final show.

In honor of Walters' retirement, here's a look back at one of her first on-air appearances on the Today Show in 1961. The content may be fluffy, but Walters is witty, knowing, and utterly infectious as she describes the Paris Fashion week creations that were so expensive she could purchase only one modest new fad — the bedazzled nail ring. --Lauren Hansen