The Celebrity Treatment

Fans Line Up in the Rain to Meet Barbara Walters

Posted May 12, 2008 at 3:37pm

By late last Wednesday, the McRoy family had scoured every big bookstore in the Detroit area for a copy of Barbara Walters’ new tell-all memoir.

So when Megan McRoy, a student at Michigan State University, saw on television that Walters would be making a stop in Washington, D.C., to autograph copies of “Audition,” she knew there was only one thing to do: book a flight.

Megan and her parents, Gwen and Jim, were just three of the hundreds of fans who turned out at Trover Shop on Thursday to snag a signed copy of the television journalist and media personality’s memoir.

The book chronicles Walters’ groundbreaking career as a female journalist and challenges in her personal life. Several of Walters’ admissions in “Audition,” such as her affair with then-married former Sen. Edward Brooke (R-Mass.), have attracted a buzz in the media and propelled sales; just two days after its May 6 release the book had sold more than 837,000 copies and had gone back to print seven times.

Walter said at the signing that one of the main reasons she penned the very personal story was to shine light on the private sacrifices she made to achieve success.

“A lot of young people come up to me and say, ‘I’d love to have your life.’ And I say, ‘Well, then you have to have the whole package,’” she said, later adding, “I had a career that’s had great ups and downs and been through lows that many people don’t talk about.”

Most fans at the book signing said they were more interested in the stories of breaking the gender barrier in the newsroom than the controversy generated by the book.

Many women in the line, which stretched out Trover Shop and nearly to the end of the block despite the rain, lauded Walters for her numerous “firsts.” In addition to getting many exclusive interviews over the years, Walters was the first female co-host of the “Today” show and the first female co-anchor of a nightly network news program.

“She has done so many things that so many other women have fought to do for so long,” said Erica Blaylock, a senior from Mississippi State University who stopped by the book signing while visiting her grandfather. “It just sort of says that as a girl you can do anything.”

Diane Sullivan said she was not one to usually wait in a line — not to mention a line in the rain — to meet an author. But the chance to meet Walters was too good to miss.

“I’m here because I think she’s a woman who has paved the way not only for a lot of news women, but women in general,” she said.

As a correspondent for ABC and host and producer of “The Barbara Walters Special,” Walters earned a reputation for getting exclusive interviews and delivering tough questions to some of the world’s most powerful figures.

Margie Williams said she remembered most vividly Walter’s landmark 1977 interview with former Cuban President Fidel Castro, which she called the “first little crack of daylight into the Castro kingdom.”

“You were curious about Fidel,” Williams said. “What would he say? How would he relate with this American woman, Barbara Walters?”

Many who turned out for the signing were also fans of Walters’ most recent gig, as creator, producer and co-host of “The View.”

Sara Holland, a staffer in Sen. Bob Menendez’s (D-N.J.) office, said her love of the daytime talk show drove her to come out for the book signing, but she also commended the groundwork Walters laid for future female professionals.

“I was very touched by the personal cost of being a trailblazer,” Holland said.

After the signing, Walters offered advice for young men and women looking to blaze trails of their own.

“Get your foot in the door, do your homework, work very hard, don’t whine, and you’ll make it,” she said.