Oprah Talks to Barbara Walters
Oprah: Yes. I saw an interview you did with Richard Pryor.
Barbara: He's fascinating because he's more than a comedian. I interviewed him four times. The second time was after he'd set himself on fire. The third was when he admitted to me that he'd set himself on fire. I'm touched by Richard Pryor because I saw this brilliant man self-destruct. I'm going to make a comparison, and you're going to think I'm nuts, but I'm also touched by Margaret Thatcher. I'd talked with her before she was prime minister and while she was in office. I also did an interview with her after her fall. So I saw all those years in a progression. You become emotionally involved. Those are memories I treasure.
But yes, young celebrities are hard, and I won't have to do many of them anymore. When I do a special, it really has to be special—and I worry a little about that. I'm contractually committed to specials for far longer than I ever thought I'd be working. But I'm also proud, because I'll probably have been in news longer than any other woman. That's not the kind of thing you put in Ripley's Believe It or Not!, but maybe we'll have less age discrimination. Mike Wallace is 86, God bless him. It wouldn't occur to the networks that a woman might be working until that age.
Oprah: You're still on the frontier.
Barbara: Yes, and that will affect other women. That makes me feel good. All I need is good lighting and a little Botox [laughs].
Oprah: It took me years to get good lighting.
Barbara: It's more important than makeup. Shall we tell people about that in their own homes? Watch your lighting.
Oprah: It's everything. So you were talking about areas in your life where you don't feel in control. Do you think you were a great mother?
Barbara: I was a loving mother. But a career is a difficult thing to balance with a very young child. These days you can bring your child into some workplaces. If I had brought Jackie in with me...
Oprah: Can you imagine?
Barbara: I wanted my child so much. She was indeed the chosen child. She was adopted after I'd had three miscarriages. 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. It's a different time, and there are many women who do it. I was traveling so much, and I rationalized it by saying, "If I hadn't worked all those years, I wouldn't have been able to help my daughter accomplish some of the things she has accomplished." Do you know what my daughter does? She runs a therapeutic wilderness program for adolescent girls in crisis. Isn't that wonderful?
Oprah: Yes. Is there anything you would have done differently?
Barbara: I would have been home more—and you and I wouldn't be talking today.
Barbara: Yes. It's not just about spending quality time. It's about time in general. There are kids who don't need quite as much. But you really have to think about it.
Oprah: Is that a regret?
Barbara: Jackie's so wonderful now that it's not. But had she not been, it would have been a very deep regret. When she was going through the turmoil of her teen years, which I don't want to talk about, it was a terrible heartache. But maybe I did something right, because look how she turned out. She sometimes says to me—though not always with great pleasure—"I'm just like you, Mom. I'm a workaholic."