Nepotism is nothing new; lots of celebs have successful parents, and Barbara Walters is no exception. Her dad, Lou Walters, was a nightclub owner who became so famous, The New York Times devoted a lengthy obituary to him after his death by heart attack in 1977. His club, the Latin Quarter, attracted big talent including Frank Sinatra and Mae West.
Barbara was “a shy, bookish schoolgirl among the brassy dames” in the venue, according to The New Yorker, but while she had a largely privileged childhood surrounded by the glitterati, it wasn’t without difficulty. She wrote in her memoir, “Audition,” that her older sister Jacqueline’s mental disabilities led other kids to ostracize both of them. “It was a lonely, isolated childhood,” Barbara told AP (via Today). She also felt envious of how her mother doted on Jacqueline, she confessed to SFGate, but in time she would consider Jacqueline “the most significant person” in her life. Still, her feelings for her sister were complicated. “I felt love for her but also pity, and there were times when I hated her and felt terribly guilty,” she said.
Thanks to her father’s success, Barbara’s family could afford a top-of-the-line education for their kids. She attended the private Birch Wathen school in New York City, according to The New York Times, and then went to the prestigious Sarah Lawrence College in 1947. Walters donated $15 million to the latter in 2015, per Philanthropy News Digest, resulting in a student center being named after her.