Barbara Walters: ‘My Whole Being in Front of the Camera is Such an Amazing Accident’

By Merrill Knox 

walters304x200As she prepares for her final week as co-host of “The View,” Barbara Walters reflects on her career in a Vanity Fair profile. Walters says her success has been a result of “an amazing accident” — finding herself in front of the camera after she was first hired as a temporary writer for the “Today” show in 1961 — and a lot of hard work:

Walters has traveled to the far corners of the earth for absurdly short lengths of time—three two-day stints in China, a one-day visit to Australia. Before cell phones, she would sit all day in a foreign hotel room, waiting to hear if an interview was going to happen. In preparation for a particular interview, she generated dozens of questions and wrote them on index cards, continuing to revise until the second filming started. “People sometimes say to me, ‘Who writes your questions?’ ” Walters told me. “And I think, Who writes my questions? I write my own stuff, and I can write the way I talk.”

[Disney/ABC Television group president Ben] Sherwood, of Walters’s trip to Syria to interview Assad, said, “This woman prepares and prepares and prepares. All the way from here to Damascus, and then all the way to the presidential palace, and all the way into the presidential palace, through the layers of security, and then all the way into the room where she was interviewing Assad, I can tell you that she was working and reworking and reworking those questions. For all of us on this side who know what it takes to get the Most Fascinating [People] on, or an Oscar special, or a big interview, it’s an incredible amount of work and she is always there. She is the one who puts her hand up and says, ‘I’ll come in at two in the morning, if you need me to update the West Coast on that piece I did.’ ”