Walters' Personal Revelations

Walters shares her difficult personal revelations, including an affair.

ByABC News
May 6, 2008, 10:16 AM

May 7, 2008— -- Barbara Walters' upbringing was unusual, to say the least. One of her closest friends from youth, psychoanalyst Joyce Ashley, said Walters grew up with "tension in the air."

Walters' memoir, "Audition," which arrived in bookstores this week, explores the difficult childhood that shaped a precocious girl into a woman known around the world, revealing never-before-told secrets from her past.

"She always had the specter of having to take care of this family," Ashley said. Walters' parents, "were unlike any other parents that I knew. Her father was rather mysterious. Her mother was under a great deal of tension because her sister probably had a birth injury of some kind."

Walters' older sister, Jackie, was thought to be "slow."

"My sister was three and a half years older, but from the time she was born, they knew there was something wrong," Walters said. "Today, they will talk about it as a disability, they don't use the word retarded anymore."

Jackie may have been autistic, but at the time, Walters' family didn't know it. What Walters did know early on was a sense of responsibility.

"This is why I always felt that I had to work from an early age. I knew that my sister was going to be my responsibility. My nightmare was that my father was going to lose it all," she said. "I didn't really think he would. And he did."

According to Ashley, success was Walters' only option. At times, it seemed unfair.

Walters said, "I'm not sure that I resented Jackie because everything revolved around her, but I resented the fact that I didn't have a normal life with her. I couldn't have birthday parties because she didn't and I couldn't join the Girl Scouts because she didn't. My life was not normal to begin with because of my father and the whole show business. I mean, he ran these glamorous, wonderful, nightclubs, but you know, he came home at 3 a.m. and slept until one in the afternoon it was a show business life."

Walters' father, nightclub pioneer Lou Walters, notorious for being a risk taker, fell on hard times in the '50s after opening several new nightclubs that bombed.