Aster-Obit: Barbara Walters
On 30 December 2022, media icon Barbara Walters passed away at her home in Manhattan; retired since 2014, her last public appearance had been in 2016. Walters’ journalistic career was studded with an array of impressive “firsts.” The doyenne of television interviewers, Walters made history as the first female co-anchor of a nightly network news broadcast, and the first woman journalist to garner a $1 million salary. She was instrumental in the success of ABC’s premiere news magazine, “20/20”, established its hit daytime current events talk show, “The View”, and in countless interviews and dozens of prime-time specials brought us up close and personal to the movers, shakers, and culture makers of our time. From presidents and potentates to pop stars and prima donnas, if they made headlines, Walters interviewed them, and often her interviews became headlines in themselves.
Born 25 September 1929, the daughter of Lou and Dena Walters, Barbara came into contact with celebrities at an early age. Her father worked as a booking agent and Broadway producer, and she has credited her early exposure to theater stars as preventing her from being “in awe” of the famous and powerful. Within a year of her graduation from Sarah Lawrence College in 1951, Walters landed a job with the local New York City NBC affiliate, doing publicity and PR work, moving into production work for several years before becoming a writer for CBS’ “The Morning Show” in 1955.
Additional writing credits followed, until Walters found her newsy niche in 1961 as a writer and researcher with NBC’s “The Today Show”, then hosted by Hugh Downs. Eventually elevated to “on-air” talent, Walters developed a strong working relationship with Downs, who encouraged her move from light, airy reporting to harder news, something virtually unheard of for a woman at the time. Later, she partnered with Downs as co-anchor on “20/20.”
Walters’ big break came with her promotion to co-anchor of the “ABC Evening News” with Harry Reasoner in 1976, when she also claimed that seven-figure salary per annum. But life with Harry, who made no secret of his disdain for her, was not a happy one, and the nightly news stint ran only two years. In 1979 Walters reunited with Hugh Downs on “20/20”, and remained influential in that broadcast until her retirement.
But Walters’ most famed journalistic contributions were her interviews, given in highly personal style and surroundings, often interviewing celebrities in their homes. In 1977 she scored a joint interview with Egypt’s Anwar Al Sadat and Israel’s Menachem Begin which put her on the map, to be followed by such world leaders as Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, the Shah of Iran, Russia’s Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin, Britain’s Margaret Thatcher, India’s Indira Gandhi and Cuba’s Fidel Castro, among many others. The list of pop stars who came under her scrutiny is virtually endless, many roped in for her annual pre-Oscar specials, which ran for 29 consecutive years. Her 1999 interview with Monica Lewinsky pulled in a record 74 million viewers, the most ever for a news program. In contemplating retirement, Walters opined that her only regrets were never having interviewed the Queen or a Pope.
In 1997, Walters began a new venture with “The View”, a daytime talk show format which she created, produced, and co-hosted with four other women. Conceived as a multi-generational forum for women by women, the show is now in its 26th season. Walters’ daily involvement with the show had lessened over the years, and changes in hosts have been frequent, but “The View” remains top-rated in its time slot. In her final week with the show, all 11 current and former co-hosts were reunited with Barbara onstage, a living testament to the many careers she has fostered, molded or influenced.
Married and divorced three times, Walters has no birth children, but adopted a daughter, Jacqueline Dena, in 1968, with her second husband, Lee Gruber.
Born 25 September 1929 at 6:50 AM EDT in Boston, Massachusetts (Rodden Rating A), Barbara Walters’ birth chart shows a determined, balanced, naturally inquisitive individual. Her 1 Libra Sun conjoins both the Ascendant at 4 Libra and the supermassive Black Hole at 0 Libra, the source of her ability to pull others into her orbit, seemingly effortlessly. It conveys great force of will, the ability to adapt to circumstance and fit seamlessly into any number of situations or guises, and a strong propensity for manipulation or control. The Ascendant is also exactly conjunct a Quasar, among the brightest objects in the universe, which garners attention easily and promotes networking, success and achievement. Anything contacted to a Quasar is like setting a beacon on a hilltop, impossible to ignore, at some point becoming the focus of all eyes.
The Moon at 23 Gemini closely opposes Saturn at 24 Sagittarius, which is itself on the Black Hole at the Galactic Center. On a personal, emotional level this can indicate a sort of coldness or lack of feeling, a difficulty expressing emotion or intimacy, but at a minimum, augments emotional control. Curious, deft, and media-oriented, the pull of Saturn in opposition to the inquisitive Moon drove Walters toward “hard” news rather than the fluff pieces which were the typical fare relegated to female journalists of her day. Saturn’s conjunction with the Galactic Center, which promotes international or universal attention and notice, both propelled her career to superstar status and brought her into contact with that huge number of global (GC) leaders (Saturn). Natal Pluto at 19 Cancer in the Tenth House of career suggests power struggles in the office, but ultimately being in a position of authority and control.
In addition to the Sun and Ascendant, both Mercury and Mars are in Libra as well, providing a strong cosmic resonance with principles of fairness, balance, and a diplomatic approach to others which served her well in interviews. Mars in Libra may cause Walters to pull her punches in a fight, but its tight conjunction with Mercury (22 and 23 Libra respectively) suggests that she is rarely at a loss for words, and may be somewhat passive-aggressive in her responses when irked. Pluto in square to this conjunction could imply that her resentments are deep-seated, but glossed over with a veneer of Libran cordiality. Mars is also exactly conjunct a Black Hole, suggesting that Walters has the ability to veil her displeasure, making it “disappear” as needed, and perhaps working behind the scenes to pull strings when she deems that retaliation or reprisal is merited. Mercury in this mix portends that she has a long memory for slights or injustices, and Pluto active here as well suggests an almost karmic obsession with paying old debts.
The Sun’s opposition to Uranus at 9 Aries shows Walters as a trail-blazer, boldly walking her own path in direct contravention of the conventions of her time. Uranus’ conjunction with the 4 Aries Descendant indicates separation issues in relationship, an unorthodox approach to intimacy and partnering, and a need for independence within the confines of marriage. These are all issues which easily resonate with Venus’ natal conjunction to Neptune, at 29 Leo and 2 Virgo, which can promote disappointment or disillusion in love, romance and relationships, an unrealistic expectation of what it is to be partnered which clashes with the harsher reality experienced in life.
Additionally, Venus is both conjoined and opposed Black Holes, signature of one whose relationships do not conform to “normal” societal expectations, with frequent disruption and termination, as witnessed by Walters’ four failed marriages (she was twice married and divorced from her third husband, a la Taylor and Burton).
This can also indicate an ability to attract large amounts of money, and as a female, suggests a tendency to “remake” or reinvent the popular image of what a woman can be or do. As the first female newscaster to earn a million-dollar salary, and with her net worth estimated at somewhat north of $170 million when she passed, Walters has certainly lived up to that Black Hole’s fiscal potential. Her groundbreaking work in journalism, bringing newswomen out of the “fluff closet” and enabling them to participate fully with men, was put on display on Walters’ final day on “The View,” when a cast of dozens of female news personalities paraded past her in homage to the doors she opened and the careers she made possible by her example.
A number of mythic and personal named asteroids impact the chart as well, filling in the details of Walters’ personality and biography. Most telling are asteroids Sisyphus at 0 Libra and Pandora at 4 Libra, both on the Sun and Ascendant.
Sisyphus is named for a resident of Hades doomed to forever roll a rock uphill, only to have it roll back down again, thus necessitating an endless repetition of the action. This can be an image of pointless endeavor and extreme boredom, but it also suggests staying power and a determination to proceed against all odds. This Barbara Walters had in spades.
Pandora of course is named for the first woman in Greek myth, and often shows up prominently in the charts of women who are “first” at something – like earning a million-dollar salary or co-hosting a primetime network news show. But Pandora’s story also centers on curiosity, as well as the unleashing of unintended consequences. While it’s reasonable to assume, given her relationship history, that the latter has been a feature of Walters’ private life, her public persona has focused more on the curiosity theme. Her probing interview style, with disarmingly direct questions punctuated by laser-like follow-ups based on the replies, betrays a deep desire to get to the bottom of her subject and reveal their innermost selves, their most closely-held or bottled-up secrets, a curiosity that will not be sated until the very last detail is out of the proverbial “box”.
An interesting Grand Trine appears in Walters’ chart, comprised of asteroid Askalaphus at 14 Leo, centaur Asbolus at 12 Aries, and the Great Attractor at 12 Sagittarius. Askalaphus is the tale-bearer, the one who reveals others’ secrets, named for a gardener of Hades who witnessed Persephone’s ingestion of the pomegranate seeds which required her annual return, and then informed on her. Asbolus is named for a mythic centaur seer, a diviner who read the signs of the times in the flights of birds, and represents one who is tapped into the world pulse, or zeitgeist, to an advanced degree. The Great Attractor is a bit of a mystery—we can’t actually see it, don’t know what it is, but its gravitational field is so strong that it bends light, allowing us to actually see behind it. It is receding from us, but pulling along more than a million galaxies in its wake, including ours. Astrologer Philip Sedgwick has described its effects as providing individuals with an “unusual appeal or potency,” with the ability to “impact large masses of people.” Put it all together and you have a thumbnail sketch of Walters’ career and her effect in the world.
Barbara’s natal Jupiter at 16 Gemini opposes this point, creating a Kite pattern of the Grand Trine, and focusing its energies of inquisitiveness, dissemination of information and pattern or trend recognition on her personal point of fame and reputation (as well as focusing her on celebrities in her work). Certainly Walters’ annual specials of “The 10 Most Fascinating People of the Year”, broadcast from 1993 to 2015, can be related to this pattern, relaying, in Great Attractor style, her Asbolus-like take on what’s cutting edge and up-and-coming in the world, and wheedling those Askalaphean secrets out of her hapless victims.
But perhaps the most fascinating minor body placement is that of asteroid Lachrimosa (from the Latin lachrima, or “tears,” from which we derive our word lachrymose, “tearful”). At 18 Cancer it closely conjoins natal Pluto at 19 Cancer, and squares Mercury at 23 Libra. Walters is famed, even lampooned, for her ability to make her interviewees tear up and cry. The subtle manipulation (Pluto) of her questioning (Mercury) brings forth the deluge (Lachrimosa), despite comments by many of her subjects that they came prepared and determined not to succumb to Walters’ “terms of en-tear-ment”.
Barbara Walter’s natal PNAs (Personal-Named Asteroids), Walter and Barbara, are conjoined each other at 6 and 9 Virgo, within orb of the Venus/Neptune conjunction at 29 Leo and 2 Virgo. This pairing spells “female (Venus) TV personality (Neptune)” and the semisquare from Walter and Barbara to Mercury at 23 Libra designates news as her bailiwick (as well as conforming to the common pattern of one’s own PNAs falling in aspect to the Sun, Moon, Ascendant or Mercury, as ruling the naming function).
When Barbara Walters retired on 16 May 2014, this media mover and shaker, active in more than five decades of television journalism history, found her celestial self rather fittingly involved in the major pattern of the day, with asteroid Walter at 16 Libra tapped into the ongoing Uranus/Pluto square and the fading Grand Cross it grounded. Within orb of Mars (the leader and trailblazer) at 9 Libra, Walter more closely squared Pluto (change, transition) at 13 Capricorn and Jupiter (fame, reputation) at 17 Cancer, while opposing Uranus and Venus at 14 and 15 Aries, marking Walters as the unconventional, rule-breaking (Uranus) woman (Venus) she was. Transit Mercury (the media, journalism, broadcasting) at 16 Gemini was an exact match for her natal Jupiter, and transit Neptune (TV, retirement) at 7 Pisces opposed natal asteroids Walter and Barbara at 6 and 9 Virgo, as Walters abdicated (Neptune) her throne as America’s premiere female TV news personality.
Tears were shed on that final week at “The View,” devoted to her, not least by Walters herself, who could not hold back the emotion. Fittingly, transit Lachrimosa and the Sun were in square all week, approaching contact to her Venus, as the outpouring of love and respect went into hyper-drive on the final day, with that Oprah-Winfrey-introduced cavalcade of women newscasters paying homage to Walters, including Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Robin Roberts, Meredith Vieira, Maria Shriver, Jane Pauley, Connie Chung, Joan Lunden and Paula Zahn. When the review had passed before her watery eyes, Walters grabbed the mic and exuded, “This is my legacy. These are my legacy. And I thank you all.” Then came Walters’ parting words: “Who knows what the future brings? Maybe instead of goodbye, I’ll say à bientôt, which in French means, ‘See you later’.”
When Barbara Walters passed on 30 December 2022, the skies once again reflected the reality of that loss. Asteroid Walter at 27 Capricorn was an exact match for Pluto, modern lord of death, also conjoined Venus at 25 Cap, Mercury at 24 and asteroid Manhattan at 18 Capricorn. How better to express the death (Pluto) of Walters (Walter), the leading female (Venus) journalist (Mercury) of her day, at her home in Manhattan (Manhattan)? These points cluster about natal asteroid Osiris, named for the Egyptian god of the dead, at 21 Capricorn; square that natal Mars/Mercury pairing at 22 and 23 Libra, with natal asteroid Requiem also at 23 Libra, named for the funeral mass for the dead; and oppose natal Pluto at 19 Cancer.
Transit asteroid Barbara at 6 Sagittarius had just crossed over natal asteroid Anubis at 3 Sagittarius, named for the Egyptian deity governing funerary rites, forming a T-Square with her natal PNA placements in Virgo and natal asteroid Rip at 2 Pisces, which acts as a death indicator in the form of the acronym “RIP”, “Rest In Peace”, a common tombstone inscription. A natal pairing of asteroids Manhattan and Lachesis (named for the mythic Greek Fate who determines the span of life) at 12 and 20 Pisces suggests an inherent potential for an eventual passing in the Big Apple, now fulfilled.
Walters was also caught up in the dragnet of multiple celebrity deaths which accompanied the late December T-Square of Jupiter (fame, celebrity) at 1 Aries, opposed asteroid Osiris (death) at 3 Libra, with the Sun at 9 Capricorn on the fulcrum. Osiris conjoined her natal 1 Libra Sun, while Jupiter opposed it exactly, and the Sun made an exact square to natal Uranus at 9 Aries, highlighting, for one final time, the unique, nonconformist, high-voltage being that was Barbara Walters.
2 comments, add yours.
The asteroids were amazing as usual but I enjoyed the inclusion of relevant black holes and a quasar too. I enjoyed your book on black holes but haven’t done enough with it. This great example has prompted me to go back and take another look at it. Thanks Alex!
Growing up in the early seventies and watching Barbara Walters (and Gilda Radnor!) opened up the possibilities for women to take a more center-stage approach to their careers. Affirmative action gave us the voice to pursue male-dominant careers with less blowback, but it has never been easy. Barbara Walters served as an example of what a smart, capable woman can achieve. The one thing that I can say…my dad (DOB 1917) admired her, and talked about how she held people accountable, asking tough questions. He only mentioned her looks one time to me, “She is a full package, rare with both beauty and brains. God help the man who can keep up with her”. Here’s to you, Barbara, for holding my dad accountable!
I would write my cousin (at the bequest of my uncle, his dad) in early 1984 a letter of guidance as he was going thru personal stuff. I asked my dad to read the letter, and what his opinion was of what I wrote. When I wrote the letter, thinking about how would Barbara Walters handle this situation as an inner guide). My dad after reading my letter, told me I needed to be a writer. I never told him I have envisioned what would Ms. Walters say for guidance when writing the letter!
To the universe, hear our plea, all women, let the beacons of the future come forth now, our world needs you.