Barbara Walters Net Worth. The late Barbara Walters needs no introduction. A trailblazing pioneer in the world of television, her storied career spanned over six impressive decades. During that time, she earned a reputation as one of the most talented journalists in the world, interviewing every sitting United States President from Nixon to Obama.
In addition to her illustrious career, Walter’s also amassed a significant personal fortune. Today, we will examine how she started her career, made her money, and her net worth at the end of her life.
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Barbara Walters’ Early Life
Barbara Walters wasn’t born into a rich family with a silver spoon in her mouth. Instead, her wealth was hard-earned – the product of decades of journalistic work that turned her into an industry icon and one of the most sought-after television hosts in the country.
Born in Boston, Massachusetts, on September 25, 1929, Walters was the oldest of three children. She grew up in a middle-class household. Her father, Lou Walters, was a booking agent, theatrical producer, and founder/owner of the famed nightclub in New York City called the Latin Quarter. Her mother, Dena Seletsky, was a homemaker.
After graduating with a degree in English from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, she did a brief stint in an advertising agency before becoming the publicity director’s assistant at New York City’s NBC-affiliated TV station. Soon after this initial exposure to writing and producing for television, Walters gained a job as a writer for NBC’s popular Today show in 1961. And that’s where her road to stardom really began.
Barbara Walters’ Was A Trailblazer
Thanks to a potent combination of intellect, camera presence, and strong journalistic work, Walters rose up the ranks at the Today show and, in the process, turned herself into one of the program’s most popular personalities.
Fast forward to 1974, and she became the show’s first female co-host, winning an Emmy a year later – the first of many – for “Outstanding Host or Hostess in a Talk, Service, or Variety Series.”
Soon afterward, Walters signed a contract with ABC to become the first woman to co-anchor an evening network news program. This prominent role came with a $1 million annual salary – higher than any other journalist at the time.
More prestigious awards, high-profile interviews of famous figures, and high-flying roles followed. Chief among them positioned as co-host of ABC’s newsmagazine show, 20/20, and – years later, in 1997 – co-host of the all-popular talk show, The View, cemented Walters’ place in TV history and turned her into an even bigger household name.
Barbara Walters’ Net Worth
Throughout her career, Walters excelled at leveraging her status, popularity, and journalistic prowess to her financial advantage. In other words, she knew what she was worth – a vital insight that led to the series of impressive salaries that formed the bedrock of her fortune.
For a glimpse of her standing in journalistic circles, consider this:
By the time 2004 came around, she’d conducted over 700 interviews with everyone from Ronald Reagan and Muammar Gaddafi to Elton John and Monica Lewinsky – an interview that garnered more than 70 million views alone.
Such was her influence that, according to Fortune, by 1976, Walters was already earning an impressive $700,000 as co-host of the Today show. That’s over $3.5 million in today’s money. She’d go on to be labeled “the million-dollar baby” after signing the 5-year, $5 million contract with ABC we referenced earlier.
That $1 million annual salary – worth over $5 million today – was unprecedented for a female anchor in 1976. Yet it would pale in comparison to the reported $12 million she’d go on to earn for ABC News and 20/20 in the nineties.
This amount was another record figure at the time, which dwarfed the salaries of other ABC News stars, such as Peter Jennings.
Best Selling Books
Various best-selling books she authored over the years, including “Audition: A Memoir” and “How to Talk to Practically Anybody About Anything,” added to her fortune. However, it wasn’t until years later, when she left The View, that Walters’ net worth skyrocketed.
As one of the talk show’s creators, she had a 50% stake in the program she sold after leaving in 2014. Nobody knows exactly what she made from the sale, but it’s thought to be in the eight figures. All told, these various sources amounted to sizeable wealth. At the time of her death in December 2022, it’s estimated that Barbara Walters’ net worth was approximately $170 million.
She Was Successful and Influential
The late Barbara Walters was a highly successful and influential figure in the twin worlds of journalism and TV. While she retired from active broadcasting almost a decade ago, her legacy and impact on the industry continue to be felt today. Moreover, her journalistic ability, appeal on screen, and business acumen allowed her to grow her net worth into the nine-figure range.
You can also read Can You Guess The Richest Family in the World by the same author.
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Danny Newman is a digital nomad, blogger, and content writer from the UK. A passionate traveler with a perpetual itch in his feet, he’s always on the hunt for the next big adventure.