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Does Barbara Walters Have Dementia? 6 Details About The Former Co-Host Of The View

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Does Barbara Walters Have Dementia? 6 Details About The Former Co-Host Of The View

What is going on with Barbara Walters?

On March 20, Vulture published an excerpt from an upcoming book, Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of “The View” by Ramin Setoodeh. The book, which is due to come out April 2, includes interviews with nearly every host—the excerpt that came out on Wednesday is from Jenny McCarthy’s experience as the 11th cohost on the show. Specifically, with Barbara Walters.

McCarthy said she had a less-than-poor first impression of Walters and the show when she first came on in 2007 as a guest. McCarthy was promoting her book Louder Than Words: A Mother’s Journey in Healing Autism. In the book, McCarthy claims vaccines weakened her son Evan’s immune system, which triggered his autism. She describes how she improved her son’s health through his diet and therapy.

Just before taping began, however, McCarthy was told Walters wanted to talk to her. “She was screaming, ‘How dare you say this! That autism can be cured?’”

Then, in 2012, despite swearing to herself she’d never go on the show after that first experience, McCarthy interacted with Walters again while promoting her memoir. Walters was a totally different person.

“She fully read my book cover to cover,” Jenny said. “She came to my dressing room and quoted dirty stories from it, asked me to autograph it for her, and she had no recollection that I had been there before. She was hugging me, loving on me.”

The excerpt has brought up some concerning details about the legendary creator of the show. However, McCarthy isn’t the only one that has recently described Walters’s memory problems.

Does Barbara Walters have dementia? Below are details from Jenny McCarthy and other insiders about Walters’s behavior over the past few years.

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1. An insider said Walters didn’t recognize Whoopi Goldberg.

An insider told RadarOnline that the family fears her dementia is so far advanced, they have been arranging for visitors and close friends to say their final goodbyes.

A representative for Walters said she is doing fine, but the insider paints a much more ominous picture. When former co-host Whoopi Goldberg visited, Walters, 89, could not remember her.

“Barbara’s eyes were opened wide, and she was terrified. Barbara screamed: ‘Who is she? Get out, get out! Help me! Get out. She wouldn’t stop. No one could calm her down. Whoopi excused herself from the room. She was heartbroken by what she saw.”

RadarOnline reported in 2018 that Walters was cooped up and isolated in her New York home and was wheelchair-bound.

2. McCarthy claims Walters would forget celebrities’ names.

Had to make sure my lip liner was on point! Thank you @therealmargaretjosephs

A post shared by Jenny McCarthy (@jennymccarthy) on Feb 28, 2019 at 7:53am PST

McCarthy had been added to the table for a specific goal. Bill Geddie told McCarthy, “We want pop culture, irreverent, fun, sassy.”

Setoodeh wrote that when McCarthy joined the show, Walters was 83: “Barbara still had plenty of energy, but she found herself facing a mixture of complicated emotions, from aggravation to fear about being forgotten. Her memory was cloudy, and she’d been known to make odd outbursts in private conversation.”

McCarthy recalled a time she brought up Katy Perry in Hot Topics.

“I saw Barbara’s face with her big saucer eyes look at me,” Jenny said. “Then we went to a commercial. She said, ‘Who is it that you’re talking about and why are you bringing her up?’ I’m, like, ‘That’s Katy Perry. You interviewed her last week!’”

One time, it seemed Walters didn’t even know who her co-star was. McCarthy referred to herself in the third person while telling a story on the show; Walters asked, “Who is Jenny McCarthy?”

Soon after, the show told McCarthy her role had changed. “I was told, ‘We cannot do pop culture anymore because she doesn’t know who the people are.’”

3. She also says Walters was critical of her appearance.

McCarthy told Setoodeh that she felt Walters hyperfocused on her appearance. She estimated that at Walters’s insistence, McCarthy switched 50 outfits over a span of seven months.

“Mind you, she doesn’t look at anyone’s clothes but mine,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy also said sometimes Walters liked her looks—a little too much. “She wanted to start dressing like me. There were times when she’d say change, and she’d make people run out and get that dress in her size. I was a human Barbie doll.”

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4. She compared The View’s creator to an abusive mother.

McCarthy likened Walters to the mother in the movie Mommie Dearest, which depicts Joan Crawford’s abusive mothering of Christina Crawford.

“I’ve never seen a woman yell like that before until I worked with Barbara Walters,” McCarthy told Setoodeh.

She came to the studio as a new co-host wondering which version of the show’s founder she’d deal with. At the outset of starting the show, she told herself, “Hopefully, I get the Barbara Walters who is nice.”

5. McCarthy recalled a demand Walters made of her involving a tampon.

“Jenny, there’s a tampon floating in the toilet and it’s disgusting,” Walters told McCarthy one morning. McCarthy claimed it wasn’t hers, but Walters insisted she “do something about it.” McCarthy conceded.

“I don’t know what to do,” Jenny told Setoodeh. “She’s standing in the hallway where the guests are, yelling at me about a tampon. I don’t know. Maybe in her brain, she went, ‘I’m going to the youngest, newest person here, because obviously she has her period and left a tampon floating.’ This is Barbara Walters. I’m not going to yell at her. So finally I said, ‘I’ll take care of it. I’ll take one for the team and I’ll flush it.’”

6. Walters has recognized she’s a “pushy cookie.”

Barbara Walters has been heralded as a pioneer for women in broadcasting. She began as a writer and segment producer of “women’s interest stories” in the early 1960s for The Today Show on NBC News. She became the first woman to be a co-host of an American news program in 1974. She then became the first female co-anchor of a network evening news for the ABC Evening News in 1976.

Walters was the co-host and producer of 20/20 from 1979 to 2004. She created The View in 1997, and was a co-host on the show until 2014.  

She spoke about the sexism she faced over the course of her long career on Oprah's Master Class in 2015.

“The so-called hard news, a woman couldn’t do it. The audience wouldn’t accept her voice,” Walters said. “She couldn’t go into the war zones, she couldn’t ask the tough questions.”
Walters decided to take a stand.

“Some people admired it. Others said, ‘She’s rude,'” Walters said. “On the one hand, it made me more valuable; on the other hand, I got the reputation as being a pushy cookie. ‘There goes that pushy cookie.'”


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Alison Cerri is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture and relationship topics.

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