Alicia Menendez’s ode to Barbara Walters:

With Barbara Walters’ retiring from television, there’s been a wave of nostalgia that even I cannot ignore.

Perhaps you remember watching Barbara with your parents on 20/20.

Or maybe you parodied Gilda Radner’s impersonation of Walters.

But however you know her, you know her and that is one enduring legacy of Barbara Walters.

What gets lost in her impressive list of firsts–the first woman to co-host the Today Show and the first woman to co-anchor a nightly network news program–is that this woman is a pioneer. Those firsts about achievement or novelty, they’re about changing institutions simply by being a part of them.

We see plenty of women on TV today, myself included. And here is the thing: we’ve still got a long way to go. To this day, men account for more than 60% of bylines and on camera appearances.

But all of those gulfs would be bigger and harder to cross were it not for Barbara Walter’s tenacity, vision and personal sacrifice.

Barbara Walters was begrudgingly given an opportunity when she became the Today Girl. Yes, the formal title was “girl.” And boy, did that woman shine. She worked harder and smarter and proved that a women can do anything.

And then she created opportunities for others. With The View she developed a forum for female talent and put women’s opinions and perspectives center stage.

By being the first and then by being the best, Barbara Walters didn’t just open doors: she tore the entire house down. And as a beneficiary of her work, I am so glad she did. Barbara, thank you.

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