Oprah Winfrey gave the ultimate tribute to the late Barbara Walters.
Winfrey, 68, posted a photo with Walters via Instagram on Friday night, minutes after the tragic news broke.
“Without Barbara Walters there wouldn’t have been me — nor any other woman you see on evening, morning, and daily news,” Winfrey began. “She was indeed a Trailblazer. I did my very first television audition with her in mind the whole time.”
In 2014 — when Walters retired after 17 years on The View, the ABC talk show she created in 1997 — Winfrey surprised the TV pioneer as a guest co-host for her legendary send-off.
The OWN founder went on to joke about how she used to imitate Walters at the beginning of her career, a story Winfrey first told Walters in 1988 when she appeared on the Barbara Walters Special.
The legendary broadcaster had a number of first in television, including being the first female anchor on the Today show and the first woman to co-anchor a nightly news broadcast.
That experience, on ABC World News Tonight alongside Harry Reasoner, was rather hostile with Reasoner famously pushing against the notion of wanting to work with a co-anchor at all, let along a female. She called the experience the biggest failure of her career.
But that failure drove Walters on to her greatest achievement and the thing that she’s said saved her career: Her long, long string of interview specials, which allowed her to develop (and institutionalize) a gauzy but shrewd technique that lured anyone with serious power or celebrity down to the pop-culture river and immersed them and baptized them.
Walters, in a 2014 ABC TV special commemorating her career, famously said she often knows “more about the person than he or she knows about themselves,” and was known for holding her own no matter which superstar, president or even accused murderer she was interviewing. And always kept it classy.