Boston-Born Barbara Walters and Her Family Had Some Notable New England Roots
“Trailblazing,” “pioneer”, and “hero” are words that have been used to describe the journalism icon who passed away this weekend at age 93.
However, one descriptive term may have been lost among all the others used to describe the first female host of the “Today” show: “New Englander.”
Walters was born September 25, 1929 in Boston, Massachusetts, just three weeks after the stock market crash that triggered the Great Depression. The latter proved difficult to navigate for her rather ambitious father.
Lou Walters was a successful and well-renowned theater producer, booking agent, and nightclub owner, according to his New York Times obituary. Though born in London, Lou got his big break in Boston, where he opened an agency that booked various Vaudeville acts.
As Vaudeville faded, Lou Walters adjusted, shifting to booking and discovering nightclub acts and comedians. In Boston, Walters would open the Latin Quarter nightclub, a precursor to his club of the same name in New York City.
Among the famous names Lou (and often, his young daughter Barbara) encountered were Frank Sinatra, Milton Berle, and Mae West.
Barbara would later tell the Times about attending elementary school at the Lawrence School in Brookline, Massachusetts, before her father’s business led the family to move to Miami. This would be followed by flurry of ups and downs for the family, ultimately leading the future “20/20” host to New York City, the city with which she is most strongly associated.
However, the Walters family New England legacy lives on.
In 1978, one year following his death, the Boston Center for the Arts named a rehearsal hall after groundbreaking entertainment mogul Lou Walters, known to most as the father of trailblazing journalist, Boston-born Barbara Walters.
As documented in People, Barbara was on hand to attend the dedication.