×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Barbara Walters: Probing Questions and a Tall Tale of the Tree

Any discussion of Barbara Walters’ trademark primetime interview specials inevitably winds back to the famous question: “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?”

Except that she never delivered that query in quite in that way, even though it has become apocryphal punchline.

SEE ALSO: Barbara Walters: Her View on 50 Years in the News Biz

The tree moment cropped up during Walters’ 1981 interview of Katharine Hepburn, who described herself as feeling like a very strong “tree” in her old age. Walters pressed her on “what kind of tree are you?” To which Hepburn said she preferred to be an oak rather than an elm, in order to avoid Dutch elm disease.

Among other probing questions over the years from Walters’ primetime specials:

  • “Is it all you?” — to Dolly Parton in 1977, regarding her physique
  • “Do you think that helped him lose the election?” — to Chevy Chase in 1990, regarding his impersonation of President Ford as a bumbling idiot
  • “Your husband has three other children by two other women. That didn’t bother you?” — to Whitney Houston in 1993, regarding her husband Bobby Brown
  • “Do blondes have more fun?” — to Elizabeth Taylor in 1999, regarding her switch to platinum blonde hair
  • “Why didn’t you have your nose fixed?” — to Barbra Streisand in 1985, regarding her early insecurities
  • “Is Bill Clinton a sensuous, passionate man?” — to Monica Lewinsky in 1999, regarding her relationship with President Clinton

More TV

  • Melissa McCarthy as "Lee Israel" and

    WGA Awards 2019: 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?,' 'Eighth Grade' Win Screenplay Awards

    In a pair of upsets, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” has won the Writers Guild of America’s adapted screenplay award for Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty and Bo Burnham has won the original screenplay award for “Eighth Grade.” The major television trophies went to “The Americans,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Homeland” and “Barry” for the [...]

  • 50 Cent Power

    NYPD Officer Under Investigation for Allegedly Telling Police to Shoot 50 Cent 'on Sight'

    A New York City precinct commander is under investigation for allegedly telling officers to shoot rapper 50 Cent on sight, a police rep confirmed to Variety on Sunday. “The matter is under internal review,” an NYPD rep said, declining to answer further questions. Deputy Inspector Emanuel Gonzalez is accused of telling officers during a June 7 roll [...]

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    'Bohemian Rhapsody,' 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Among Cinema Audio Society Winners

    Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the Cinema Audio Society’s top prize for sound mixing at Saturday night’s 55th annual CAS Awards. The film is Oscar-nominated for sound mixing this year along with “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “Roma” and “A Star Is Born.” In a surprise over heavy-hitters “Incredibles 2” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Wes [...]

  • Marvelous Mrs Maisel Vice

    'Vice,' 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Lead Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Winners

    Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” starring Oscar nominees Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell, won two awards at the sixth annual Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Saturday night. The film won for best period and/or character makeup as well as special makeup effects. “Mary Queen of Scots” received the prize for period [...]

  • Jussie Smollett Good Morning America

    Jussie Smollett Angrily Denies Complicity in Attack

    Attorneys for “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett issued a statement Saturday denying that he orchestrated his Jan. 29 assault, and saying he is “angered” and “devastated” by recent developments in the case. Chicago police want to interview Smollett, after learning new evidence from two Nigerian brothers who were released on Friday night. Local media outlets have [...]

  • Jussie Smollett Empire

    Chicago Police Want to Talk to Jussie Smollett as New Evidence Emerges

    Chicago police are seeking to re-interview “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, after new evidence emerged in his alleged assault. Smollett has claimed that two men attacked him at 2 a.m. on Jan. 29, yelled racial and homophobic slurs, poured bleach on him, and put a noose around his neck. The Chicago Police Department has consistently said [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content