Synopses & Reviews
Young people starting out in television sometimes say to me: "I want to be you." My stock reply is always: "Then you have to take the whole package."
And now, at last, the most important woman in the history of television journalism gives us that "whole package," in her inspiring and riveting memoir. After more than forty years of interviewing heads of state, world leaders, movie stars, criminals, murderers, inspirational figures, and celebrities of all kinds, Barbara Walters has turned her gift for examination onto herself to reveal the forces that shaped her extraordinary life.
Barbara Walters's perception of the world was formed at a very early age. Her father, Lou Walters, was the owner and creative mind behind the legendary Latin Quarter nightclub, and it was his risk-taking lifestyle that gave Barbara her first taste of glamour. It also made her aware of the ups and downs, the insecurities, and even the tragedies that can occur when someone is willing to take great risks, for Lou Walters didn't just make several fortunes he also lost them. Barbara learned early about the damage that such an existence can do to relationships between husband and wife as well as between parent and child. Through her roller-coaster ride of a childhood, Barbara had a close companion, her mentally challenged sister, Jackie. True, Jackie taught her younger sister much about patience and compassion, but Barbara also writes honestly about the resentment she often felt having a sister who was so "different" and the guilt that still haunts her.
All of this the financial responsibility for her family, the fear, the love played a large part in the choices she made as she grew up: the friendships she developed, the relationships she had, the marriages she tried to make work. Ultimately, thanks to her drive, combined with a decent amount of luck, she began a career in television. And what a career it has been! Against great odds, Barbara has made it to the top of a male-dominated industry. She was the first woman cohost of the Today show, the first female network news coanchor, the host and producer of countless top-rated Specials, the star of 20/20, and the creator and cohost of The View. She has not just interviewed the world's most fascinating figures, she has become a part of their world. These are just a few of the names that play a key role in Barbara's life, career, and book: Yasir Arafat, Warren Beatty, Menachem Begin, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Roy Cohn, the Dalai Lama, Princess Diana, Katharine Hepburn, King Hussein, Angelina Jolie, Henry Kissinger, Monica Lewinsky, Richard Nixon, Rosie O'Donnell, Christopher Reeve, Anwar Sadat, John Wayne...the list goes on and on.
Barbara Walters has spent a lifetime auditioning: for her bosses at the TV networks, for millions of viewers, for the most famous people in the world, and even for her own daughter, with whom she has had a difficult but ultimately quite wonderful and moving relationship. This book, in some ways, is her final audition, as she fully opens up both her private and public lives. In doing so, she has given us a story that is heartbreaking and honest, surprising and fun, sometimes startling, and always fascinating.
"Although Walters writes, 'It was not in my nature to be courageous, to be the first,' her compulsively readable memoir proves otherwise. No one lasts on TV for more than 45 years without the ability to make viewers feel comfortable, and Walters's amiable persona perfectly translates to the page. She gives us an entertaining panorama of a full life lived and recounted with humor and bracing honesty. Walters is surprisingly candid: about her older sister's retardation, her father's suicide attempt, her midlife affairs (including ones with John Warner before and after his marriage to Elizabeth Taylor and a very married Edward Brooke, the first African-American elected to the U.S. Senate since Reconstruction), her daughter's troubled teen years and her acrimonious relationships with coanchors Frank McGee and Harry Reasoner. She vividly recounts her decision to leave NBC's Today Show after 14 years to become the first female nightly news coanchor, and tells of the firestorm of criticism she endured for accepting that pioneering position and its million-dollar salary. Alternating between tales of her personal struggles, professional achievements and insider anecdotes about the celebrities and world leaders she's interviewed, this mammoth memoir's energy never flags. 32 pages of photos. (One-day laydown May 6)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A legitimately star-studded autobiography... the portrait of a deftly calculating woman with an impeccable sense of timing... There will never be another television news career like this one." Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"[T]he crowning glory of a remarkable career that opened doors for women everywhere. And is still opening them." Liz Smith, Baltimore Sun
"An unusually ambitious and successful book.... Walters knows how to put on a show. Although nothing in Audition comes as a shock... it has just the right number of personal but not icky revelations, and they enrich, rather than spoil, a sense of intimacy." Nicholas Lemann, The New Yorker
About the Author
Barbara Walters is the first woman ever to cohost a network news program. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. An ABC News correspondent, she is also host of The Barbara Walters Specials and the creator, cohost, and co-executive producer of ABC Daytime's The View. She lives in New York City.
Table of Contents
Lou, Dena, and My Princess Grandmother
The Pistachio Green House
New York, New York
Miami at War
“A very normal girl”
It Gets Worse
Television 102 and a Strange Marriage Proposal
Passage to India
A Funeral and a Wedding
Thirteen Weeks to Thirteen Years
Becoming Barbara Walters
Garland, Capote, Rose Kennedy, and Princess Grace
Born in My Heart
Dean Rusk, Golda Meir, Henry Kissinger, and Prince Philip
Sad Times in Florida
Winning Nixon, Losing Sinatra
Exit Hugh, Enter McGee
Marriage On the Rocks
Historic Journey: China with Nixon
A Dead Marriage and the Dead Sea
Resignation in Washington. Victory in New York
Fun and Games in Washington
Special Men in My Life
Egypt, Israel, and ¡Hola, Castro!
The Million-Dollar Baby
“Dont let the bastards get you down”
Thank Heaven! The Specials
The Historic Interview: Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin
Exit Harry, Enter Hugh
Heartbreak and a New Beginning
The Hardest Chapter to Write
9/11 and Nothing Else Matters
Presidents and First Ladies: Forty Years Inside the
Heads of State: The Good, the Bad, and the Mad
Adventures with the Most Mysterious Men
Over Again, Never Again
Celebrities Who Affected My Life
To Be Continued . . .
Review A Day
"Her book is composed of four strands: accounts of the interviews (padded, but fascinating); behind-the-scenes contract negotiations with her various employers (dull); reminiscences about her domestic arrangements, beginning in childhood (carefully couched, but interesting); and kiss-and-tell revelations about her romantic life, which just about killed me." Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic Monthly
(read the entire Atlantic Monthly review