Bob Iger—the CEO of the Walt Disney Company, which owns ABC, Walters' longtime employer—said she died Dec. 30 at her home in New York.
"Barbara was a true legend, a pioneer not just for women in journalism but for journalism itself," Iger tweeted. "She was a one-of-a-kind reporter who landed many of the most important interviews of our time, from heads of state and leaders of regimes to the biggest celebrities and sports icons."
He added, "I had the pleasure of calling Barbara a colleague for more than three decades, but more importantly, I was able to call her a dear friend."
Although her literary career, which included writing for Redbook Magazine, began early as the 1950s, Walters' first television appearance was as a "Today Girl" on the Today show, where she ascended to reporter-at-large within just a year. In 1974, as co-host of the morning program, Walters became the first woman to hold that particular title for an American news show.
In addition to Today, her career expanded over four more decades and included her being at the helm of various shows such as 20/20, ABC Evening News and The View—the last of which she created, produced and co-hosted.
Starting in 2010, Walters also hosted a SiriusXM show called Here's Barbara, until stepping away from both her satellite series and her chair at The View in 2014.
Throughout her impactful career, Walters continued to break barriers as a journalist, including interviewing every sitting U.S. president from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama, until her official retirement from hosting in 2015. In addition to her sit-down with high-ranking politicians, some of Walters' most iconic interviews include her one-on-ones with Fidel Castro, Michael Jackson and Anna Wintour.
As she said when leaving The View, "I do not want to appear on another program or climb another mountain. I want instead to sit on a sunny field and admire the very gifted women—and OK, some men too—who will be taking my place."
During her 60 years as a journalist, Walters was nominated for 11 Daytime and Primetime Emmy Awards, earned a Women in Film Lucy Award and was honored with a GLAAD Excellence in Media award.
Additionally, in 1989, Walters was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame and more than a decade later, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 2000. Seven years later, Walters cemented her legendary status when she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007.
When looking back on her career in 2004, Walters told Oprah Winfrey, "I forget what I've done until I start working on a retrospective. Then I'm amazed. I was never supposed to be in front of the cameras. I wasn't beautiful. I didn't speak perfectly."
She continued, "Most of the time when I look back on what I've done, I think, 'Did I do that?' And you know what I say to myself? 'Why didn't I enjoy it more? Was I working too hard to see it?'"
That's why she emphasized that the most important part of life is spending time with loved ones. "You've got to have someone you love—and not necessarily that you have to have someone who loves you," Walters shared. "You've got to have a reason to get up in the morning. That doesn't mean you have to have a career. But you must have something you really care about."
For her, it was her daughter Jacqueline Dena Guber, whom she adopted after three miscarriages.
"I wanted my child so much," Walters explained to Winfrey. "She was indeed the chosen child... I used to say that you could have a great marriage and a great career, a great marriage and great children, or great children and a great career, but you couldn't have all three. Now you can, with the support of a mate, if indeed you have one."
The journalist added that she was proud of her daughter for running a therapeutic wilderness program for adolescent girls in crisis. "Isn't that wonderful?" she said in 2004. "We spend much more time together these days."
Walters is survived by Guber, who is now 54 years old.
(E! and Today are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)