The Making of Barbara Walters

Act 1: From her childhood to her early career, the broadcasting legend recalls her life.
8:24 | 05/16/14

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Transcript for The Making of Barbara Walters
All right, you ready? Yes. Describe your childhood. My childhood. I guess the word that comes to my mind is lonely, and I'm not sure why. My father was in show business. He -- he owned and operated nightclubs. They were called the Latin quarter. There was one in Boston. There was one in New York. There was one in Florida. So we moved around a lot. I went to three different high schools in my four years of high school. So, as I look back, I think it was maybe a strange childhood. To other people, to have a father who owned a nightclub -- hey, wasn't that great. But I wanted him to come home every night and not just Friday nights. I wanted him not to sleep until 2:00 in the afternoon. I guess I wanted my father to be a dentist. What kind of a little girl were you? I was a very serious little girl. My father said I had an inferiority complex. He probably was right. I read all the time. I got lost in a book. To this day, I read a lot, and to this day, I think I'm a serious person. I don't smile enough, even on camera. I'm told, "Smile more." So look, folks. Isn't that awful? Tell me about the Latin quarter. The Latin quarter. Well... The most famous Latin quarter was on Broadway and 48th street. It had a big line of chorus girls. They were not nude like Las Vegas, but they were pretty undressed. They did the cancan. If I have a glass of wine, I will sing the theme song. Otherwise, I will spare you. I won't spare you. I'm gonna do it. Please. I can see, all over the country, people turning off their television sets. Okay. ? So, this is gay Paris ? ? come on along with me ? ? we're going out to see the Latin quarter ? ? put on your old beret ? ? we'll sing the Marseilles ? ? and put the wine away like water ? chorus girls -- boom, boom! What celebrities do you remember seeing at the Latin quarter? Well, I remember Sophie tucker. Does anybody remember Sophie tucker? She was a big star. She was a kind of heavyset woman, and she sang risqué songs. And her most famous song was -- ? some of these days, you're gonna miss me, baby ? ? some of these days ? I knew Milton berle very well. I could do Milton berle's act. I really could. Frank Sinatra worked at the Latin quarter. There was a man named Willie Howard who used to pretend to be a French professor, except he had a yiddish accent. I will now do it. ? Oy Vey down south in the land of cotton ? ? meals are bad, hotels are rotten ? That's great. [ Normal voice ] Is that funny? I love that. That's so funny. What did you learn about celebrities from that experience? I learned from seeing celebrities that they could bleed, that they had a dark side, that they had children they didn't see or divorces or lack of relationships. I learned that celebrities were human beings. It has made my life, in terms of interviewing celebrities, very different. And I have never thought of a celebrity as someone so perfect and wonderful that I should be put off. One, two. One, two, three. Stop. Funny thing happened to my mother in Cleveland. I thought you were born in Buffalo? Oh! Music! What? Wait a minute. That's it. We're in show business. Do I get the job? Geddie: Tell me about your sister. At the time, she was called "Retarded." She was slow. Chronologically, my sister was older. In truth, she was the younger sister. I resented her, yet I loved her. She made my parents, who adored her, very unhappy because they looked at this child and saw how out of things and how lonely she was. So, I guess the word that would come into my mind is troubled, difficult, not fun, not happy. Were you sometimes embarrassed by your sister? My parents, because she had no life, used to say to me if I was going out with a girlfriend, "Take your sister. Can you take your sister?" I felt so bad for her. Later on, when I was doing interviews with people who were physically or mentally afflicted, I think it gave me maybe a special understanding. And we did several stories with progeria children and their loving and wonderful parents. Lindsay, does anybody ever say anything to you that you don't like? Yes, it makes you sad? Are there times when people think you're a baby? How old do they think you are? 2. They think you're 2? And what do you say to them? I'm not a baby. You're not a baby. And that makes you feel bad? Well, all they have to do is hear you talk and they know you're a big girl. One of the most amazing couples I ever interviewed, memorable, were Robert and Michelle smithdas, a married couple who were both blind and deaf. They are inspirational. Bob and Michelle, you have never actually seen each other. Bob, tell me what your wife looks like. Michelle, how did you meet bob? I was -- bang! Michelle, do you ever say, "Why me?" Or do you think this happened for a reason? One of the most moving interviews I ever did was with Christopher reeve, the actor who had been Superman, who was paralyzed in a horseback-riding accident. Before the surgery when I first was -- first coming out of, you know, unconsciousness, and you had the thought, maybe it's not worth everybody's trouble. And I had that thought for maybe 10 minutes. That you wanted to die, pull the plug, whatever? Yeah, I suggested, "Maybe I should just check out." And Dana, my wonderful, wonderful wife, is the one who said, "But you're still you, and I love you." Do you think you will walk again? I think it's very possible I'll walk again. And if you don't? Then I won't walk again. As simple as that? Either you do or don't. It's like a game of cards. And if you think the game is worthwhile... ...Then you just play the hand you're dealt. Sometimes you get a lot of face cards, sometimes you don't. But I think the game's worthwhile. I really do.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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