Looking Back On The Women Of "Today"
by Phil McIlrath, KDLT News
December 28, 2011 8:34 AM
Coming up in January, the TODAY show on NBC will celebrate its 60th anniversary. Wednesday morning on KDLT News Today we looked back on the women who've called Today home over the last six decades.
"Barbara Walters really was the first woman who hosted Today and she was a real trail blazer. You trace her career and you see where we've come. In the beginning she wasn't allowed to interview any of the major newsmakers. She would do sort of the more featurey segments," said Former Co-Host Meredith Vieira.
"There is no question that Barbara Walters helped pave the way for women to come on The Today Show and in morning broadcast in general. There was a time when women were not allowed to do much more than be window dressing in morning television," said Co-Host Ann Curry.
"I didn't realize they had Today girls, but that was actually a sign of the times back then. You'd never see that today," Said Vieira.
"Florence Henderson was a today girl,'said Curry.
"Florence Henderson was famous in her own right at that point as a singer and actress. She was pregnant during her tenure on the "Today Show,"sais Former Anchor Jane Pauley. "They would hide her behind palm trees and desks. Or, you know, something just-- Americans were so squeamish or prudish or something."
"The first woman to host Today was Barbara Walters. And she'd be the first one to tell you that it was not easy to get where she got to. She in the beginning she was doing more of the light features like fashion, and if she was gonna interview somebody, it was usually a woman,"said Vieira.
"By the 1970's, a great deal had changed for women and it was reflected on The Today Show. There were no interviews that I was denied,"said Former Co-Host Barbara Walters.
"I think that moment when she interviewed Richard Nixon, that was one of those seminal moments really for the show, because after that and did a great job. A great job. She got more interviews and more interviews,"said Vieira.
"In 1974, I was made the first female co-host of a morning program and ever since then, every woman who has been on has been a co-host. I didn't wave any flags. I didn't burn my bra. But, if there's something I'm very proud of, it's-- it's that occasion,"said Walters.
Bill Cosby was on the show,"said Pauley. "As a visitor on the "Today Show"-- you just never knew what Cosby was gonna say or do. And, I-- I-- I remember him-- referring to me, or without by name, referring to the big purple ball. And, it was obviously he was talking about Bryant Gumble's co-host, Jane Pauley. I definitely was the most visible pregnant woman in North America. And, I think my pregnancy was unprecedented in television,"said Pauley.
"Katie had a colonoscopy on the show and-- and because of it saved lives,"said Vieira.
"I did this colonoscopy, and I think people probably thought I was nuts,"said Katie Couric.
"And now Ann and Natalie and I have the chance to-- to make a difference as well. And it's part of the legacy of the show. The impact that you can have,"said Vieira.
"But I think that-- there has been this strong succession of women that has lasted all the way through to Meredith today in that primary role. And-- these women, one after another, have helped pave the way for the women to come after. And I think that that road is still being paved,"said Curry.