Barbara Walters retirement: on spending an evening with her at the Variety Club of Illinois celebrity ball

Barbara Walters retirement: on spending an evening with her at the Variety Club of Illinois celebrity ball

Dear Barbara,

Remember in the early spring of 1978 when you came to Chicago and accepted our annual Queen of Hearts award? It was then that we met.  You and Claudia Crown, your assistant were coming to Chicago to accept your award.

The ball was being held in the Hyatt Regency of Chicago in the grand ballroom to a sold out room of contributors. I picked you up at O’Hare Airport with your assistant.

Yes Barbara, I was slightly nervous when we met but your graciousness put me at ease in a moment.  We went by limousine provided by the Hotel and that in between drive was enlightening. I didn’t see you as Barbara Walters, the world renowned journalist; I saw you as a Mother first and then your career.

You had recently been at Camp David with President Jimmy Carter, Anwar al Sadat, President of Egypt and Menachem Begin, Prime Minister of Israel for the historic signing of a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.

One of the first things you spoke about was missing your daughter and that you couldn’t wait to get back to NY to be with her daughter. (A child at that time).  You began to tell of your recent interviews with world leaders as casually as ordering an ice cream cone.

Yes Barbara, I was in awe of you and your interviews. It appeared to me that a person wasn’t interviewed unless it was by you.  We finally arrived at the Hotel where you were escorted to your suite and given an outline of the evening’s activities.

The guests began to arrive and the first question was always the same: Where’s Barbara?  And the response was always the same: “She will be here shortly.”

The orchestra was stretching it’s normal dancing routine and a member of Variety Club went to your suite to advise you the people were getting itchy to meet you. You promised to be down very shortly. What we didn’t know at the was time that we should have had the phone removed so you had more time for yourself.

Then you came into the ballroom to an applauding group of guests. You sat with very good friend and colleague, Irv Kupcinet of Kups Column fame. That’s when it happened.  I went to your table and surprise; you remembered my name and agreed to have my picture taken with you.   After the ball was over the limo took you back to NY stat.

A copy of the picture was given to me and promptly mailed to your office in NY. And it was returned with your generous sentiment: "To Norman, Remembering that very special evening, Sincerely, Barbara.”

My heavens it has taken since 1979 to offer my many thanks for being a very generous person and for your sentiment.  Thank you.

Now Barbara, I hope you do remember.

Memories light the corners of my mind and I hope yours too.

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