Barbara Walters’ impact on female representation in broadcast journalism has cemented her legacy as one of the best to ever do it. Longevity alone would have made her a legend – she worked as a journalist for 65 years – but she did more than just deliver the news. 

She paved the way for women to join the industry, and it’s because of Barbara that women like Sara Haines, Sunny Hostin, and Joy Behar appear on The View. The ABC show was Barbara’s brainchild, which she launched in 1997. In celebration of the show’s 25th year, the current hosts raised their glasses and said, “For you Barbara!” 

Barbara Walters has left the public eye and is reportedly suffering from dementia

Barbara Walters
Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Barbara Walters was a bit unsure of how she would cope with retirement. She’d lived a scheduled life for decades and would now have entire days with nothing to do. “I don’t know what my life is going to be when it is unscheduled!” Barbara said.

However, she was confident that she wouldn’t take up another challenge. “I don’t want to appear on another program or climb another mountain,” she told The Los Angeles Times. “I want instead to sit on a sunny field and admire the very gifted women – and OK, some men too – who will be taking my place.”

Unfortunately, Barbara’s health started failing several years into her retirement. Sources say that she has dementia and a declining mental state. To protect her mental health, her loved ones shield her from current news. 

Therefore, it is unlikely that we will see the beloved Walter on screen again. However, her legacy lives on in the shows she created and the careers she nurtured. She told ABC News:

“I want to be remembered as having inspired other young women to go into business and to succeed. I’ve said it before and I mean it: They are my legacy. I have interviews I’m extremely proud of and some of them may even be one of a kind, but the lasting impact is the women who have, I hope, followed in my footsteps.” 

Walters wishes that she’d spent more time with family rather than prioritized her career

Barbara Walters
Evan Agostini/Associated Press

Barbara and her first husband, Lee Guber, set out to start a family shortly after marrying in 1963. The pair chose adoption after Walters suffered a series of miscarriages. 

They adopted a baby girl named Jacqueline Danforth, who Barbara wishes had siblings. “I regret not having more children,” Barbara told ABC News. “I would have loved to have had a bigger family. I have one daughter. I don’t have brothers and sisters.”

Barbara also wishes that she’d spent more time with her family instead of prioritizing her career. “On your deathbed, are you going to say, ‘I wish I spent more time in the office?’” Walters said. “No. You’ll say, ‘I wish I spent more time with my family,’ and I do feel that way. I wish I spent more time with Jackie.”

Danforth wanted nothing to do with her mother’s fame. She carried her rebellious teenage streak into adulthood. Barbara revealed that Jacqueline once went missing for a month, but she didn’t report it to the police because she didn’t want to draw attention to her daughter. 

“Another parent would call the police,” Barbara told NBC News. “I didn’t want the headlines. It’s not that I didn’t want the headlines for myself. I didn’t want the headlines for her. I thought, ‘I don’t know what she’ll do.’” Jackie said that she thought that she could solve her issues by running away from them. 

Jackie eventually ended years of substance abuse and founded a wilderness program to help troubled teens. She didn’t stay trouble-free for long, as in May 2013, she was arrested on DUI charges. She refused to take a field sobriety test, but a breathalyzer test confirmed that she was above the limit.

The arrest didn’t soil Jackie’s relationship with her mom, however. Per a 2015 confession by Walters on Oprah’s Master Class, Jackie is probably her principal caregiver:

“I adore my daughter. I’m laughing because my daughter said to me recently, ‘Mom, when you have Alzheimer’s, you can come down and live with me. Not if you have Alzheimer’s, but, Mom, when you have Alzheimer’s.’ I take that as a very loving compliment.”

Author Susan Page is writing a biography about Barbara Walters

Susan Page has written two books about powerful and influential American women: The Matriarch (Barbara Bush) and Madam Speaker (Nancy Pelosi). 

She is currently working on a biography about Barbara Walters. Via a press release announcing the book, Susan praised Barbara for a pioneering career. Susan said:

“She knew fascination people – presidents and kings, poets and despots, actors and sports stars – and she knew how to make them talk. She fished with Fidel Castro, dated John Warner, and grilled Monica Lewinsky. Walters was also a key figure in the transformation of what is considered news and who could be trusted to tell it.”

Page acknowledges that Barbara made personal and professional sacrifices to sustain her career, but it was worth it. “She is a consequential, complicated woman, who has defied expectations and expanded the opportunities for those who followed in her footsteps,” Susan added. 

The biography is set to be published in 2023. Hopefully, it will give us insight into Barbara’s retirement and health.