But earlier that day on Good Morning America Walters read a message from her daughter, Jackie, that made her eyes mist, as I learned later from a clip: "I just wanted to say I was thinking of you tonight. Tomorrow is a special day. You have impacted this world as very few can. This is a transition towards a new journey. I love you and wanted you to know how proud I am of you."
Walters read the message off her phone and admitted, "This is the only time I cry. This is from my daughter Jackie, who never wants people to know she's my daughter because she wants to live anonymously and she does."
|Walters' send-off on Good Morning America|
I HAD TO KNOW WHERE THE MUSIC CAME FROM
Sometime in the Seventies Walters had an afternoon talk show that was a precursor to The View, and adoption was going to be discussed. Florence, as the spearhead of the adoption reform movement and head of ALMA, and I and other first mothers were asked to be in the audience. Both of us spoke--and I believe Mary Anne Cohen did too--but with Walters arguing for no reunion between first mothers and their children, the overall impact was less than satisfying. Florence was furious after the show, but at least we had been able to speak.
Decades later, long after I reunited with my daughter, Walters' daughter found her natural mother and to her credit, Walters did a special, or a segment, on it, and showed the daughter meeting her mother at some place in the country, where the mother apparently lived. Wow, did they look alike. They both had long straight hair, both were dressed in country-hippie garb--both were tall and thin, long, flowing skirts, dangling earrings. You couldn't miss the similarity--and the disparity between them and Walters. Jackie is six feet tall; Walters is quite short. After that Walters stopped doing anti-open records segments. I could find no more about Jackie's first mother, or their reunion.
Much later, Walters interviewed the singer Faith Hill, who recently had reunited with her birth mother. Hill told Walters something to the effect that she needed to find her mother to find peace. Walters gave Hill a puzzled look and asked, Why would you need to do that?
Hill answered, I had to know where all that music inside me came from.
Point made. Previously at FMF when we wrote about this incident, we commented that the question indicated Walters was a dunderhead. But on reflection, I see that she was using the obvious way of getting Hill to say more. If Walters had not asked the question, Hill would not have had the opening to say why she had to find her mother! As a journalist you have to ask the obvious questions, even if the answers seem obvious. The words have to come from the person being interviewed! Not you.
A TROUBLED TEEN EVENTUALLY REUNITES WITH OTHER MOTHER
As for the daughter, her life has been troubled, even with all the advantages of being Barbara Walters' daughter--she attended one of the best private schools in Manhattan, Dalton, where she had plenty of opportunity to acquire drugs if that was her aim. Walters writes in her biography that the young girl frequently sneaked out of the house to go to the infamous Studio 54 where drugs were passed around like a salt shaker on a lunch counter. Eventually, according to USA Today, Walters hired an ex-Green Beret to "escort" Jackie to a wilderness tough love school in Idaho (!), where she stayed three years.
According to a profile in New York magazine, Walters once mused to another magazine that the little girl was possibly was “not competitive enough” (to be a daughter of hers, we muse). The piece continues that in Parents magazine she revealed how she relayed to Jackie she was not her biological child:
“We were in the bathtub and she asked me about parts of my body. I said that breasts were used by mommies to feed their babies. And she asked about her vagina. I said, ‘This is where a baby comes from. There are two ways that mommies who want babies have them—through this way and through adoption.’”Interviewing Walters at that point, you would want to say: And what do you think that means to a little girl? What does "adoption" mean to a child? But apparently the writer was not so bold--perhaps as Walters would have been interviewing herself.
Apparently Jackie turned her life around and eventually opened a wilderness program for troubled girls in northern Maine herself, but it was shuttered in 2008. However, last year, she was arrested for drunk driving in Florida. There's nothing else until we get the text message above.
My own reaction to Walters has been mixed. I hated that she subtly--and sometimes overtly--spoke out against reunions, but recognized that she did change as her daughter grew up and wanted to reconnect with her own mother. I acknowledge that Walters broke barriers for women in broadcasting, but was always aware she started out with a lot of advantages, coming from a family where celebrities were the dinner guests, and connections came easy. Although the family's money ran out at some point ran out, her father was a Broadway producer and opened a popular night club in New York. She did have doors opened for her, and with hard work and tenacity, she went through them. For that, good for her! I was in journalism in the Sixties myself, and I know how difficult it was for women to be taken seriously, and get good assignments that weren't fluff.
But as a viewer, I always found her cold and distant, and never thought her interviews were earth-shaking. I met her once at a small private party, but didn't really talk to her--I didn't try to. I knew she was an adoptive mother, and I was a natural mother not yet in reunion. So what I did not say was--Oh, remember me, I was one of the women in the audience that day....--lorraine
|In her own words|
FOR MORE DISH
Barbara Walters: An Unauthorized Biography
The Amazon reviews are up and down--if you are a friend of hers, you probably wouldn't like it. But some people who have no known connection to her liked it.
For her side of her story, read her own memoir:
Audition: A Memoir
Lots and lots of laudatory reviews, and some likes this: "I am glad I picked up this book at a garage sale for 25 cents instead of paying full price for it."
THANKS FOR ORDERING ANYTHING THROUGH FMF.