On 16 May 2014, media icon Barbara Walters retired from ABC News, bringing an end to 50-plus years of journalistic endeavors in a career studded with impressive “firsts.” The doyenne of television interviewers, Walters made history as the first female co-anchor of a nightly network news broadcast, and the first woman journalist to garner a $1 million salary. She was instrumental in the success of ABC’s premiere news magazine, “20/20”, established its hit daytime current events talk show, “The View”, and in countless interviews and dozens of prime-time specials brought us up close and personal to the movers, shakers, and culture makers of our time. From presidents and potentates to pop stars and prima donnas, if they made headlines, Walters interviewed them, and often her interviews became headlines in themselves.
Born 25 September 1929, the daughter of Lou and Dena Walters, Barbara came into contact with celebrities at an early age. Her father worked as a booking agent and Broadway producer, and she has credited her early exposure to theater stars as preventing her from being “in awe” of the famous and powerful. Within a year of her graduation from Sarah Lawrence College in 1951, Walters landed a job with the local New York City NBC affiliate, doing publicity and PR work, moving into production work for several years before becoming a writer for CBS’ “The Morning Show” in 1955.
Additional writing credits followed, until Walters found her newsy niche in 1961 as a writer and researcher with NBC’s “The Today Show”, then hosted by Hugh Downs. Eventually elevated to “on-air” talent, Walters developed a strong working relationship with Downs, who encouraged her move from light, airy reporting to harder news, something virtually unheard of for a woman at the time. Later, she partnered with Downs as co-anchor on “20/20.”
Walters’ big break came with her promotion to co-anchor of the “ABC Evening News” with Harry Reasoner in 1976, when she also claimed that seven-figure salary per annum. But life with Harry, who made no secret of his disdain for her, was not a happy one, and the nightly news stint ran only two years. In 1979 Walters reunited with High Downs on “20/20”, and remained influential in that broadcast until her retirement.
But Walters’ most famed journalistic contributions were her interviews, given in highly personal style and surroundings, often interviewing celebrities in their homes. In 1977 she scored a joint interview with Egypt’s Anwar Al Sadat and Israel’s Menachem Begin which put her on the map, to be followed by such world leaders as Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, the Shah of Iran, Russia’s Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin, Britain’s Margaret Thatcher, India’s Indira Gandhi and Cuba’s Fidel Castro, among many others. The list of pop stars who came under her scrutiny is virtually endless, many roped in for her annual pre-Oscar specials, which ran for 29 consecutive years. Her 1999 interview with Monica Lewinsky pulled in a record 74 million viewers, the most ever for a news program. In contemplating retirement, Walters opined that her only regrets were never having interviewed the Queen or a Pope.
In 1997, Walters began a new venture with “The View”, a daytime talk show format which she created, produced, and co-hosted with four other women. Conceived as a multi-generational forum for women by women, the show is entering its 18th season this fall. Walters’ daily involvement with the show has lessened in recent years, and changes in hosts have been frequent, but “The View” remains top-rated in its time slot. In her final week with the show, all 11 current and former co-hosts were reunited with Barbara onstage, a living testament to the many careers she has fostered, molded or influenced.
Married and divorced three times, Walters has no birth children, but adopted a daughter, Jacqueline Dena, in 1968, with her second husband, Lee Gruber.
Born 25 September 1929 at 6:50 AM in Boston, Massachusetts, Barbara Walters’ birth chart shows a determined, balanced, naturally inquisitive individual. Her 1 Libra Sun conjoins both the Ascendant at 4 Libra and the supermassive Black Hole at 0 Libra, the source of her ability to pull others into her orbit, seemingly effortlessly. It conveys great force of will, the ability to adapt to circumstance and fit seamlessly into any number of situations or guises, and a strong propensity for manipulation or control. The Ascendant is also exactly conjunct a Quasar, among the brightest objects in the universe, which garners attention easily and promotes networking, success and achievement. Anything contacted to a Quasar is like setting a beacon on a hilltop, impossible to ignore, at some point becoming the focus of all eyes.
The Moon at 23 Gemini closely opposes Saturn at 24 Sagittarius, which is itself on the Black Hole at the Galactic Center. On a personal, emotional level this can indicate a sort of coldness or lack of feeling, a difficulty expressing emotion or intimacy, but at a minimum, augments emotional control. Curious, deft and media-oriented, the pull of Saturn in opposition to the inquisitive Moon drove Walters toward “hard” news rather than the fluff pieces which were the typical fare relegated to female journalists of her day. Saturn’s conjunction with the Galactic Center, which promotes international or universal attention and notice, both propelled her career to superstar status and brought her into contact with that huge number of global (GC) leaders (Saturn). Natal Pluto at 19 Cancer in the Tenth House of career suggests power struggles in the office, but ultimately being in a position of authority and control.
In addition to the Sun and Ascendant, both Mercury and Mars are in Libra as well, providing a strong cosmic resonance with principles of fairness, balance, and a diplomatic approach to others which served her well in interviews. Mars in Libra may cause Walters to pull her punches in a fight, but its tight conjunction with Mercury (22 and 23 Lira respectively) suggests that she is rarely at a loss for words, and may be somewhat passive-aggressive in her responses when irked. Pluto in square to this conjunction could imply that her resentments are deep-seated, but glossed over with a veneer of Libran cordiality. Mars is also exactly conjunct a Black Hole, suggesting that Walters has the ability to veil her displeasure, making it “disappear” as needed, and perhaps working behind the scenes to pull strings when she deems that retaliation or reprisal is merited. Mercury in this mix portends that she has a long memory for slights or injustices, and Pluto active here as well suggests an almost karmic obsession with paying old debts.
The Sun’s opposition to Uranus at 9 Aries shows Walters as a trail-blazer, boldly walking her own path in direct contravention of the conventions of her time. Uranus’ conjunction with the 4 Aries Descendant indicates separation issues in relationship, an unorthodox approach to intimacy and partnering, and a need for independence within the confines of marriage. These are all issues which easily resonate with Venus’ natal conjunction to Neptune, at 29 Leo and 2 Virgo, which can promote disappointment or disillusion in love, romance and relationships, an unrealistic expectation of what it is to be partnered which clashes with the harsher reality experienced in life.
Additionally, Venus is both conjoined and opposed Black Holes, signature of one whose relationships do not conform to “normal” societal expectations, with frequent disruption and termination, as witnessed by Walters’ four failed marriages (she was twice married and divorced from her third husband, a la Taylor and Burton).
This can also indicate an ability to attract large amounts of money, and as a female, suggests a tendency to “remake” or reinvent the popular image of what a woman can be or do. As the first female newscaster to earn a million-dollar salary, and with her current net worth estimated at somewhat north of $150 million, Walters has certainly lived up to that Black Hole’s fiscal potential. Her groundbreaking work in journalism, bringing newswomen out of the “fluff closet” and enabling them to participate fully with men, was put on display on Walters’ final day on “The View”, when a cast of dozens of female news personalities paraded past her in homage to the doors she opened and the careers she made possible by her example.
A number of mythic and personal named asteroids impact the chart as well, filling in the details of Walters’ personality and biography. Most telling are asteroids Sisyphus at 0 Libra and Pandora at 4 Libra, both on the Sun and Ascendant.
Sisyphus is named for a resident of Hades doomed to forever roll a rock uphill, only to have it roll back down again, thus necessitating an endless repetition of the action. This can be an image of pointless endeavor and extreme boredom, but it also suggests staying power and a determination to proceed against all odds. This Barbara Walters has in spades.
Pandora of course is named for the first woman in Greek myth, and often shows up prominently in the charts of women who are “first” at something—like earning a million-dollar salary or co-hosting a prime-time network news show. But Pandora’s story also centers on curiosity, as well as the unleashing of unintended consequences. While it’s reasonable to assume, given her relationship history, that the latter has been a feature of Walters’ private life, her public persona has focused more on the curiosity theme. Her probing interview style, with disarmingly direct questions punctuated by laser-like follow-ups based on the replies, betrays a deep desire to get to the bottom of her subject and reveal their innermost selves, their most closely-held or bottled-up secrets, a curiosity that will not be sated until the very last detail is out of the proverbial “box”.
An interesting Grand Trine appears in Walters’ chart, comprised of asteroid Askalaphus at 14 Leo, centaur Asbolus at 12 Aries, and the Great Attractor at 12 Sagittarius. Askalaphus is the tale-bearer, the one who reveals others’ secrets, named for a gardener of Hades who witnessed Persephone’s ingestion of the pomegranate seeds which required her annual return, and then informed on her. Asbolus is named for a mythic centaur seer, a diviner who read the signs of the times in the flights of birds, and represents one who is tapped into the world pulse, or zeitgeist, to an advanced degree. The Great Attractor is a bit of a mystery—we can’t actually see it, don’t know what it is, but its gravitational field is so strong that it bends light, allowing us to actually see behind it. It is receding from us, but pulling along more than a million galaxies in its wake, including ours. Astrologer Philip Sedgwick has described its effects as providing individuals with an “unusual appeal or potency,” with the ability to “impact large masses of people.” Put it all together and you have a thumbnail sketch of Walters’ career and her effect in the world.
Barbara’s natal Jupiter at 16 Gemini opposes this point, creating a Kite pattern of the Grand Trine, and focusing its energies of inquisitiveness, dissemination of information and pattern or trend recognition on her personal point of fame and reputation. Certainly Walters’ annual specials of “The 10 Most Fascinating People of the Year”, broadcast since 1993, can be related to this pattern, relaying, in Great Attractor style, her Asbolus-like take on what’s cutting edge and up-and-coming in the world, and wheedling those Askalaphean secrets out of her hapless victims.
But perhaps the most fascinating minor body placement is that of asteroid Lachrimosa (#208, from the Latin lachrima, or “tears”, from which we derive our word lachrymose, “tearful”). At 18 Cancer it closely conjoins natal Pluto at 19 Cancer, and squares Mercury at 23 Libra. Walters is famed, even lampooned, for her ability to make her interviewees tear up and cry. The subtle manipulation (Pluto) of her questioning (Mercury) brings forth the deluge (Lachrimosa), despite comments by many of her subjects that they came prepared and determined not to succumb to Walters’ “terms of en-tear-ment”.
PNAs (Personal-Named Asteroids) play their part as well in describing both her personal life and career. Two of her three husbands have asteroid referents for their names, which fall in significant placement in her chart. Her first marriage, to Robert Katz in 1955, was annulled in less than two years (some sources say after only 11 months). Asteroids Roberts (#3428) and Roberta (#335, feminine variant of “Robert”) appear together at 6 and 7 Virgo, and both conjoin her natal asteroid Walter (#8021, for “Walters”) at 6 Virgo and Barbara (#234) at 9 Virgo. There are Black Holes at 6 and 9 Virgo, which may help to explain the quick implosion of that relationship (and also Walters’ phenomenal powers of attraction, the ability to “get the story”).
But more generally, PNAs which conjoin the native’s own celestial referents can work at cross purposes—their nearness signifies initial closeness and attraction, but the constant wear and tear of the two gravitational bodies in daily contact can be very stressful and repellent in the long run. This is reflected also in the placement of asteroid Reasoner (#20474), for antagonistic co-host Harry Reasoner, at 12 Virgo, also conjunct Barbara. In having both her first and last name celestial referents conjunct in the birth chart, Walters fits the pattern of these individuals being very self-driven, focused, and creating a powerful impact on their environments.
We can see the close personal involvement of Robert Katz in Walters’ life with the Roberts/Roberta/Walters/Barbara combination. The romantic attraction specifically is foretold by the trine from Venus at 29 Leo to natal asteroid Katz (#22918) at 24 Aries. This trine to a spouse’s last name is repeated with Walter’s second husband, Lee Gruber, who is represented by asteroid Grueber (#26355) at 25 Sagittarius, also in trine to Venus, and further conjoined to natal Saturn at 24 Sagittarius, symbol of the husband. Saturn here also suggests stability and staying power, and the Gruber union lasted the longest, from 1963 to their divorce in 1976. Saturn also signifies the father, and it is with Gruber that Walters adopted her only child, daughter Jacqueline, whose asteroid namesake (#1017) also falls within that bundle, at 27 Sagittarius, denoting Walters’ role as a parent. Lee Gruber is also represented by asteroid Lee (#3155), which at 27 Scorpio tightly squares Venus, lending force to the attraction.
Walters’ third husband, Merv Adelson, to whom she was twice married and divorced in the ‘80s and ‘90s, has no asteroid referents.
We’ve already seen how Walters’ nemesis, Harry Reasoner, fits into her chart. What about her favored colleague, Hugh Downs, with whom she partnered on-air at “The Today Show” and “20/20”? Asteroid Hughes (#1878) at 26 Taurus squares Venus, implying the potential for pleasant interaction and an ease of intimacy between them, while asteroid Downs (#24027) falls at 6 Sagittarius, squared to asteroid Barbara at 9 Virgo, describing a close personal tie.
This pattern of colleagues showing up in key positions in charts continues with Walters’ most personal effort, “The View”, which she co-created and co-produced, as well as hosted. First airing August 11, 1997, the chart for “The View” sports a Grand Trine of Sun at 18 Leo, Saturn at 20 Aries, and asteroid Barbara at 13 Sagittarius, indicating the pivotal role Barbara played in its existence, and its importance in her career. This becomes a Kite pattern with the opposition of the Sun to transit Jupiter at 16 Aquarius (exactly trined her natal Jupiter at the time), which brings along transit asteroid Walter into the mix from 23 Aquarius, reinforcing Walters’ dominance of the project. The show’s natal Mercury at 14 Virgo is exactly conjoined asteroid Child, and these highlight Walters’ natal asteroid Barbara at 9 Virgo, identifying the show as Walters’ (Barbara) particular “brain (Mercury) child (Child)”. [As an interesting side note, Walters’ academic life was dominated by the name “Lawrence”, with primary education acquired at Lawrence School in Brookline, Massachusetts, and higher education at Sarah Lawrence College; asteroid Lawrence (#4969) fittingly conjoins asteroid Child, at 12 and 15 Scorpio, in semisquare to the Sun and inconjunct Jupiter.]
When “The View” premiered, Walters shared the table with Meredith Vieira, Joy Behar, Star Jones and Debbie Matenopoulos. Asteroid Vieira (#2814) at 20 Scorpio squares the Sun, indicating Meredith Vieira’s pivotal role on the show, as its first moderator (transit Vieira at the time also broadly squares Walters’ natal Venus, perhaps the source of the ongoing stage business between them where Vieira seems obsessed with kissing Walters on the mouth). Joy Behar is represented by asteroid Joya (#7899), which at 21 Capricorn conjoins the show’s natal Neptune (TV) at 28 Capricorn, is inconjunct its Sun and trined natal Venus (popularity) at 22 Virgo. Behar remained on the show the longest of the original hosts, finally leaving to pursue other projects in 2013.
Star Jones has two asteroids to represent her; asteroid Starr (#4150) at 6 Sagittarius is exactly aligned with Walters’ natal asteroid Downs, so also squares her Walter/Barbara pairing, though its placement in conjunction with the show’s natal Pluto at 2 Sagittarius shows Jones as a potential source of power struggles and extreme drama. This proved to be the case, with several controversies erupting over her behavior during her tenure on the show (including allegations she used the show to promote her wedding vendors). When Jones’ contract was not renewed in 2006, she was asked to keep quiet about her upcoming departure, but in an unscripted live segment that June, Jones announced she had not been asked to return. The next day Walters claimed to have been blindsided by Jones’ announcement, and stated that effective immediately, Jones would no longer be appearing on “The View”. When the show went into summer reruns, only episodes when Jones had been absent were rebroadcast, perhaps an indication of that possible vindictive streak from Pluto squared Mars/Mercury. Asteroid Jones (#3152) at 6 Aries is in an exact trine with Starr, with the show’s Uranus at 6 Aquarius exactly on their midpoint, detailing Star Jones’ disruptive, controversial impact on “The View”.
Debbie Matenopoulos is represented by asteroid Deborah (#541), which at 6 Libra is the least tapped-in to the show’s vibration, though it conjoins Walters’ Sun and Ascendant, making for a strong personal impact. In fact, Matenopoulos’ resume was the thinnest of the original co-hosts, and she was hired by Walters after a chance meeting, almost on a whim, but underperformed and was summarily dismissed after two seasons.
When Barbara Walters retired on 16 May 2014, this media mover and shaker, active in more than five decades of television journalism history, found her celestial self rather fittingly involved in the major pattern of the day, with asteroid Walter at 16 Libra tapped into the ongoing Uranus/Pluto square and the fading Grand Cross it grounded. Within orb of Mars (the leader and trailblazer) at 9 Libra, Walter more closely squared Pluto (change, transition) at 13 Capricorn and Jupiter (fame, reputation) at 17 Cancer, while opposing Uranus and Venus at 14 and 15 Aries, marking Walters as the unconventional, rule-breaking (Uranus) woman (Venus) she was. Transit Mercury (the media, journalism, broadcasting) at 16 Gemini was an exact match for her natal Jupiter, and transit Neptune (TV, retirement) at 7 Pisces opposed natal asteroids Walter and Barbara at 6 and 9 Virgo, as Walters abdicated (Neptune) her throne as America’s premiere female news personality.
Tears were shed on that final week at “The View”, devoted to her, not least by Walters herself, who could not hold back the emotion. Fittingly, transit Lachrimosa and the Sun were in square all week, approaching contact to her Venus, as the outpouring of love and respect went into hyper-drive on the final day, with that Oprah-Winfrey-introduced cavalcade of women newscasters paying homage to Walters, including Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Robin Roberts, Meredith Vieira, Maria Shriver, Jane Pauley, Connie Chung, Joan Lunden and Paula Zahn. When the review had passed before her watery eyes, Walters grabbed the mic and exuded, “This is my legacy. These are my legacy. And I thank you all.” Then came Walters’ parting words: “Who knows what the future brings? Maybe instead of goodbye, I’ll say à bientôt, which in French means, ‘See you later’.”