AN EVENT A QUARTER OF A CENTURY IN THE MAKING...
BARBARA WALTERS CELEBRATES 25 YEARS ON "20/20"
Two-Hour Special, "25 on 20/20," Airs Friday, September 17 on ABC
A program that has been 25 years and approximately 740 interviews in the making... Barbara Walters has spoken with and helped us learn about some of the most famous and infamous people of our time. She has interviewed every president and first lady since Richard Nixon, almost every notorious murderer or accused murderer, countless Hollywood movie stars and newsmakers at the center of some sensational scandals during her 25 years as co-anchor of the award-winning newsmagazine, "20/20." As Walters steps down as co-anchor to embark on a new phase of her career, "20/20" looks back at some of her most notable interviews and controversial reports which have made some of the most memorable moments on television. "25 on 20/20," a special two-hour retrospective, airs on "20/20" FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 17 (9:00-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. Walters' last appearance as co-anchor of "20/20" will be on Friday, September 24.
Presidents and First Ladies
During the past 25 years, "20/20" viewers have had the opportunity to hear not only the political views but also to learn about the personal side of many of America's presidents and their wives by watching Walters' interviews. Among the highlights:
* Walters interviewed President Richard Nixon several times in office, but she says the most challenging one was the live, one-hour interview after he left office in which he addressed the Watergate scandal;
* Asking the first President George Bush about his credibility;
* Asking President Bill Clinton about his character;
* Asking the current President Bush about his drinking.
Alcoholism was also addressed when Walters interviewed such First Ladies as Mamie Eisenhower and Betty Ford. Keeping their marriages together was discussed during interviews with Senator Hillary Clinton and Lady Bird Johnson.
In addition to the presidents, Walters has interviewed world leaders with a wide array of political viewpoints. She has tried to reveal not only the politics, but the personalities of leaders such as:
* Cuban President Fidel Castro, who was interviewed twice - 25 years apart;
* Prince Charles, who spoke in a rare interview from Kensington Palace about struggling with his role as an heir to the throne;
* Great Britain's longest serving Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, who, during the third interview with Walters, had a hard time letting go after been thrown out of office;
* China's Jiang Zemin, just one year after the massacre at Tienanmen Square;
* Libya's Mouamar Qaddafi (the interview took place in a tent surrounded by armed men);
* Russia's President Boris Yeltsin, and later his successor, former spy Vladimir Putin.
For the reporters covering the September 11 attacks, human agony was an emotion they repeatedly encountered. Walters spoke with Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, as well as with the owner of the famous restaurant, Windows on the World, and the families of his missing employees about their loss. Six months later, in an effort to understand the origins of the hate that led to the September 11 attacks, Walters traveled to Saudi Arabia, the homeland of 15 of the 19 hijackers and the birthplace of their leader, Osama Bin Laden.
Murderers and Accused Murderers
Since 1979 Walters has come face-to-face with some of the most infamous men and women accused or convicted of murder. Some of the often chilling and compelling interviews include:
* Mark David Chapman's first interview after assassinating John Lennon in 1980, and his account of why he committed the murder;
* Erik and Lyle Menendez, two Ivy League children of privilege who confessed to savagely killing their parents, told their story for the first time to Walters;
* TV star Robert Blake, who spoke after 10 months in isolation, denied the charges that he killed his wife;
* Dr. Jack Kevorkian, known as Dr. eath, on why he was "playing God" by assisting in what he says were at least 130 deaths;
* The parents of John Hinckley, Jr., who broke their silence about raising a child who grew up to shoot the President of the United States, President Reagan;
* Jean Harris, a reserved and once highly regarded schoolmistress who was accused of murdering her lover, the man famous for the Scarsdale diet, Dr. Herman Tarnower;
* The family of Ron Goldman, the "other victim" in the Nicole Brown Simpson double murder.
Scandals and Scoundrels
One almost brought down a president, one derailed a bid for the presidency - the following are some of the most scandalous situations which led to some of the most sensational interviews on "20/20" during the past 25 years:
* Monica Lewinsky spoke openly about her relations with President Clinton for the first time ever with Walters - the hour-long interview became one of the most watched news interviews of all time.
* In one of her only interviews before her trial, Martha Stewart told Walters that she was scared of going to prison... yet she was sentenced to five months in prison and five months house arrest. Just hours after the sentencing, she once again spoke to Walters about her future.
* Did Donna Rice kiss and tell? The former model who was caught with former presidential candidate Gary Hart spoke with Walters about bringing down a candidate.
* Joined by then-husband Mike Tyson, Robin Givens told Walters that Tyson was not only violent in the ring but also at home. Shortly after the bombshell interview, aired Givens filed for divorce.
From Barbra Streisand to Julia Roberts, Clint Eastwood to Tom Cruise, Walters has interviewed arguably more celebrities than any other journalist. Some of these memorable moments include:
* Katharine Hepburn discussed marriage and career, and answered the now-famous questions about a tree;
* Michael Jackson faced the question, "how do you feel when they call you 'wacko Jacko'?";
* Anne Heche speaks candidly about feeling crazy and mental illness;
* Angelina Jolie admitted to a childhood fascination with knives and cutting herself.
After interviewing such high profile people as presidents, world leaders, murders and celebrities, Walters says her most memorable interview is actually with a man named Bob Smithdas. Smithdas is a teacher and a poet with a masters degree and two honorary doctorates who has been deaf and blind since the age of four. Other human interest moments include:
* Michael J. Fox, who spoke publicly for the first time on "20/20" after revealing that he had Parkinson's disease;
* Christopher Reeve, who also spoke for the first time with Walters after becoming paralyzed from the neck down following a horseback riding accident. The two have spoken numerous times since.
The special will also feature memorable moments from interviews with Elizabeth Taylor, Ted Turner, Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne, Barbra Streisand, Steven Spielberg and Leonardo Dicaprio, as well as Donald Trump, among other surprises.
"20/20" is anchored by Barbara Walters and John Stossel. David Sloan is the executive producer.