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Bill Geddie, a close colleague and longtime producer for Barbara Walters, is remembering the late icon.
During an appearance on Monday’s Good Morning America, Geddie reflected on working with Walters, who passed away on Friday at the age of 93.
“I’m trying to move past the mourning phase into the celebration-of-life phase,” Geddie told Robin Roberts. “It’s an amazing life and it needs to be celebrated.”
Geddie began working with Walters in 1988 on her television specials and they later teamed to create The View in 1997. When Roberts asked what the working atmosphere was like for women at the time, Geddie acknowledged that Walters would not only be subjected to sexism but ageism as well.
“I couldn’t believe it. I took over the Barbara Walters specials from the great Phyllis McGrady and I had the best job in television and I told everybody,” Geddie said. “And I was saying this to some TV executive there, who will remain nameless, a male, who’s long gone and he said, ‘Hey, not so fast there, kid. You’re 33, she’s 58. Nobody wants to see a woman over age 60 on television. So you got a year, maybe two.'”
“A quarter of a century later she is doing live television five days a week, we’re putting primetime specials. People talk about her battles with sexism, but how about that ageism front. She was a pretty amazing in that regard too,” he added.
Despite Walters being a co-creator and former co-host of The View, Geddie admitted she wasn’t originally interested in the idea of hosting a daytime talk show until conversations with her daughter spawned an idea.
“I loved Live [with Regis and Kelly]. I was a huge Regis Philbin fan. I would say to her all the time, ‘We should do a daytime show’ because I’m with Barbara Walters, right? She could do anything. So I said, ‘Let’s do a daytime show,’ and she never showed any real interest,” Geddie recalled. “Then one day we were waiting for a long lighting session and she says to me, ‘You know my conversations with my daughter are so interesting. We come at the world from a different point of view. So do you think there’s a show in that?'” Walters also referred to Virginia Graham’s syndicated program Girl Talk as an example.
“I wrote it up. I had a different title, I called it ‘Everybody’s a Critic,’ a terrible title for the show. And we pitched it, and they said, ‘We love it, we hate the title,'” Geddie recalled. Despite getting approval, Geddie said at the time Walters’ boss and ABC News president Roone Arledge thought the show was “a terrible idea” given it was a “terrible time slot” and felt it was “dangerous” for Walters and her career. “He was right. But we forged ahead,” Geddie said.
After working with Walters for decades, Geddie said the one thing he learned from her was to “do it now” and “don’t procrastinate.” “It was always a little scary when you’d suggest something to her,” Geddie said, noting that if he threw out a suggestion to interview the first lady, Walters would be eager to set up the interview immediately.
When reflecting further on what he’s going to miss about Walters, he praised her humor and hard work. “I miss that she was very funny. She thought I was funny. If you think I’m funny, you got me. I’m yours for life. And also, she kept me on my toes. Barbara could make anybody feel like a slacker. She kept me on my toes and I appreciate that. I appreciate people who do that. It’s an amazing thing that she did for me and for the world,” he said.
Geddie noted that there’s a perception that Walters must have been “tough as nails,” but he said, “That wasn’t the Barbara I knew. I mean, she had very strong ideas, but she could be talked off a bad idea and talked into a good one and I think that’s really important for everybody in this world.”
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