Tag Archives: Television Hall of Fame

Jew of the Week: Barbara Walters

In Memory of an Iconic Journalist

Barbara Jill Walters (1929-2022) was born in Boston to Jewish parents who were the children of immigrants from Russia and Poland (the original family last name was Waremwasser). Her father worked in show business and moved the family around many times, having also made and lost his fortune several times. After earning her BA in English, Walters worked for a small NBC-affiliate in New York. Her first production was a 15-minute kids show. In 1955, she moved to CBS to work as a writer for The Morning Show. Six years later, she switched to NBC’s The Today Show. Eventually, she went from writer to “Today Girl”, meaning a female journalist who relayed only local news and weather, since in those days it was thought a woman could not deliver “serious news”. Walters did eventually break through to be taken as a serious reporter. By 1971, she had her own show called Not for Women Only. Three years later, she became the first-ever female co-host of a national news program. Hugely popular, Walters was soon able to sign a whopping $5-million deal with ABC, making her the first American female news anchor and the highest paid news anchor of all time (male or female). In 1979, she joined 20/20, and turned it into one of America’s most-watched shows. Walters was famous for her interviews of presidents and global leaders. In 1977 she interviewed both Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin. She would go on to interview the likes of Yeltsin and Putin, Castro and Gaddafi, Thatcher and Indira Gandhi. Her interview of Monica Lewinsky in 1999 is still the most-watched news program of all time, with 74 million viewers having tuned in. Walters was co-creator, co-producer, and co-host of The View, which won an Emmy for Best Talk Show in 2003. She also won an Emmy for Best Talk Show Host. Walters retired from 20/20 in 2004, and from The View in 2014, and her final official interview was with Donald Trump the following year. She wrote the bestselling book How to Talk with Practically Anybody About Practically Anything, as well as a popular memoir. Walters received many honours, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, induction into the TV Hall of Fame, a Disney Legends award, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Sadly, she passed away last week.

Falling in Love with Judaism in Cameroon

In a Monastery, a Menorah Brings a Jew Back Home

Words of the Week

Only he who has been a force for human goodness, and abides in hearts and souls made better by his presence during his pilgrimage on earth, can be said to have lived, only such a one is heir to immortality.
Rabbi Dr. J.H. Hertz

Jew of the Week: Rod Serling

The Twilight Zone

Rod Serling

Rod Serling

Rodman Edward Serling (1924-1975) was born in Syracuse, New York. From a very young age he was drawn to performing, spending hours each day acting in his basement. Initially a class clown, and thought to be a “lost cause” by his teachers, Serling was soon a key member of his high school debate team, a public speaker, journalist, athlete, and social activist. The day after graduating high school, he enlisted in the army and fought in World War II as a paratrooper, earning a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star, among other medals. After the war, he studied physical education, then switched to theatre, broadcasting, and literature. It was in his college days that he began writing, directing, and acting in radio programs. He struggled to break through in the radio industry for several years after, meanwhile earning money on the side by participating in dangerous flight experiments for the Air Force (and nearly getting himself killed on multiple occasions). He then tried his luck at television, and after many years of writing scripts, Serling finally got a break. His 72nd script, Patterns, earned many accolades and was described by some at the time as the best program in the short history of television. After this success, he had little worry finding jobs. However, corporate sponsors and politicians always meddled with his scripts. Fed up with this, Serling created his own show: The Twilight Zone. The series became an instant hit, and in 2013 was ranked as the third best TV show of all time. Serling went on to write and produce a number of other television, film, and radio programs. He also wrote many short stories and poems, and published 11 books. On top of this, Serling taught film and media at colleges across the US. Throughout his life, his primary goal was to spread awareness of human equality, world peace, and social justice. This was the underlying theme of all of his work, and Serling himself often stated that “the ultimate obscenity is not caring.” Sadly, Serling died at the young age of 50 from a string of heart attacks. He is credited with helping to establish television as a serious medium, and his episode of Patterns was the first TV rerun in history. He was ranked first among the “25 Greatest Sci-Fi Legends” by TV Guide. Serling won 8 Emmys, 3 Hugo Awards, and a Golden Globe, among others, and has been inducted into both the Television Hall of Fame and the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.

Words of the Week

As long as they talk about you, you’re not really dead, as long as they speak your name, you continue. A legend doesn’t die, just because the man dies.
– From an episode of The Twilight Zone (written by George Clayton Johnson)