Oprah thanks the late Barbara Walters for helping kick off her career, 'I pretended to be her'

In a heartfelt Instagram tribute Oprah credits journalist Barbara Walters for her own success

Barbara Walters and Oprah
(Image credit: Evan Agostini / Staff)

Oprah Winfrey just joined the chorus of celebrities paying tribute to the one-and-only Barbara Walters, who passed away at the age of 93 just last week.

In a beautiful Instagram post, Oprah, who recently opened up on her COVID-19 experience in a new documentary, honored the legendary broadcaster, also known for creating The View back in 1997, by specifically thanking her for paving the way for all women in the industry.

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"Without Barbara Walters there wouldn’t have been me - nor any other woman you see on evening, morning, and daily news," the 68-year-old talk show host wrote on the social media platform alongside a photo of the two women together. "She was indeed a Trailblazer. I did my very first television audition with her in mind the whole time. Grateful that she was such a powerful and gracious role model. Grateful to have known her. Grateful to have followed in her Light."

The post unleashed a slew of similar comments and memories from fans of the iconic newswoman. 

"[Barbara] is the reason I got my degree in journalism," one commenter wrote.

"You two were both inspirations for me to become a broadcast journalist ❤️❤️❤️," someone else noted.

Fellow celebrities chimed in as well, including Reese Witherspoon ("Beautifully said"), Rita Wilson ("I grew up with her. She is a legend") and Eyewitness News reporter Derick Waller ("I know how she meant to you and so many of us in TV news, but especially women. RIP, Barbara").

Barbara Walters on The View

(Image credit: Ida Mae Astute / Contributor)

The relationship between Barbara and Oprah goes way back and, despite clearly leading different careers, the women are both known for carrying forward some pretty incredible interviews. Barbara, for example, famously interviewed the likes of Fidel Castro, Lucille Ball, Muhammad Ali, Fred Astaire, John Wayne, Henry Kissinger, Monica Lewinsky and Michael Jackson, among many others. 

In addition to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's interview with Oprah, the businesswoman has sat down with Whitney Houston, Tom Cruise, Lance Armstrong, Sarah Ferguson and the Obama family. 

This isnt the first time that Oprah sings the praises and pays tribute to her former friend and inspiration Barbara. 

In fact, back in 2014, when Barbara retired from The View after 17 years of leading the program, Oprah surprised her as a guest co-host during her very last episode.

Oprah and Barbara Walters

(Image credit: Kevin Mazur / Contributor)

While on the show nearly a decade ago, Oprah got candid about the influence that Barbara had on her personal and professional career.

"I had to be here for your last show, to celebrate you, because of what you have meant to me," Oprah said on the episode. "You have literally meant the world to me. [...] Like everyone else, I want to thank you for being a pioneer and everything that word means. It means being the first; the first in the room to knock down the door, to break down the barriers, to pave the road that we all walk on. I thank you for that. And I thank you for the courage it took every day to get up and keep doing it."

Funnily enough, on the appearance, Oprah also recounted a story that she had told the broadcaster for the first time in 1988 when she herself was a guest on Barbara Walters Special.

"When I auditioned for my first television job, I walked in not knowing what to do so I pretended to be Barbara Walters" Oprah told the audience. "I pretended to be her. I sat like Barbara. I crossed my legs like Barbara. I tried to talk like Barbara. I had Barbara in my head for about a year until one night I mispronounced Canada and called it Ca-nada. And that is not what Barbara Walters would do. And it was the first time I had a breakthrough to be myself, but you paved the road for that to happen for me."

Barbara's passing has clearly deeply affected folks from all walks of life, whether involved in journalism or not. Here's to hoping women everywhere will take charge and try and lead the way moving forward just as Barbara had until her death.

Anna Rahmanan is a New York-based writer and editor who covers culture, entertainment, food, fashion and travel news. Anna’s words have appeared on Time Out New York, the Huffington Post, Fortune, Forbes, Us Weekly, Bon Appetit and Brooklyn Magazine, among other outlets.