Barbara Walters of ABC News to be Class Day speaker

Barbara WaltersBarbara Walters, who has arguably interviewed more statesmen and stars than any journalist in history, will address the graduating Yale College Class of 2012 on May 20.

The ABC News correspondent is so well known that she is listed in the American Heritage Dictionary.

In 2004, after 25 years as co-host and chief correspondent of ABC News’ “20/20,” Walters began a new phase in her ABC career, substantially increasing the number of primetime ABC News specials, in addition to her “Barbara Walters Specials.” Walters joined ABC News in 1976 as the first woman to co-host the network news.

Walters’ “20/20” exclusives included the first interview with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton regarding her autobiography; the first with Martha Stewart before her trial and following sentencing; and the first formal interview with former Vice President Al Gore since the controversial 2000 presidential election. Walters also tackled tough issues surrounding the war with Iraq, including reports on Iraqi women and children who lived through the first Persian Gulf war.

She has interviewed every American president and first lady since Richard Nixon. She made journalism history by arranging the first joint interview with Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat and Israel’s Prime Minister Menachem Begin in 1977. Another first was a conversation with Cuban President Fidel Castro — an interview that has been printed in half a dozen languages and shown all over the world. She traveled to Cuba to interview Castro again on the 25th anniversary of their original meeting.

She has interviewed Russia’s Boris Yeltsin, China’s Premier Jiang Zemin, Great Britain’s former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Libya’s Moammar Qadaffi, and Iraq’s President Sadaam Hussein.  She was the first American journalist to interview Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and did the first interview with President George W. and Laura Bush following Sept. 11. Most recently, she conducted an exclusive interview with Syrian President Bashir al Assad in Damascus. In 1999, Walters conducted the first interview with Monica Lewinsky, which became the highest-rated news program ever broadcast by a single network.

“The Barbara Walters Specials” are the top-rated specials of the year and have included such notables as Sir Laurence Olivier, Bing Crosby, John Wayne, Bette Davis, Audrey Hepburn, Simon Cowell, Betty White, Katy Perry, David and Victoria Beckham, Justin Timberlake, and George Clooney. In 2010, Walters’ hosted her 29th and final Oscar special. Her “The 10 Most Fascinating People” broadcast, launched in 1993, offers a review of the most prominent newsmakers of the year, as well as the “most fascinating” person.

Walters’ is creator, co-owner, executive producer, and co-host of “The View,” recipient of the 2003 Daytime Emmy® Award for “Outstanding Talk Show.” In 2009, “The View” hosts received a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Talk Show Host and were chosen as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” by Time magazine. Forbes ranked “The View” #11 among “30 of the Most Influential Women in Media.”

Prior to joining ABC, she appeared on NBC’s “Today Show” for 15 years. She began as a writer on the “Today Show,” became a reporter-at-large, and was the program’s first female co-host.

Walters was a member of the NBC News team that went to China to cover the visits of Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. She also hosted her own popular syndicated series, “Not for Women Only.” Early in her career she was a writer for CBS News and the youngest producer with NBC-TV’s New York station (WNBC-TV).

Walters is a New York Times best-selling author for her 2008 memoir, “Audition.”

Walters has received national recognition for her work and as well as numerous prestigious honors and awards. Among these are:

• Induction into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ Hall of Fame “for being acknowledged worldwide as one of television’s most respected interviewers and journalists,” 1990.
• Induction into the Museum of Television and Radio in Los Angeles, 2004.
• The Overseas Press Club’s highest award, the President’s Award, 1988.
• Lifetime Achievement Award, International Women’s Media Foundation, 1991.
• Lifetime Achievement Award, Women’s Project and Productions, 1993,
• The Muse Award from NY Women in Film and Television, 1997,
• Lifetime Achievement Awards, National Academy of Television.