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What makes Barbara Walters special? As she retires, a few sources offer theories

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NEW YORK, N.Y. - The famous and powerful flocked to Manhattan's legendary Four Seasons to celebrate Barbara Walters, a legendary newswoman now stepping away from daily television.

Addressing them Wednesday night, the 84-year-old Walters joked, "The good news is, I'll have time to get Botox. The bad news is, now that I won't be on the air, I won't NEED Botox.

"I will be available for supermarket openings," she went on. "And for a $10 bid, you can have lunch with me. For $20, you don't have to."

Moments earlier, Walters' boss had paid her tribute.

"Barbara's retiring," said Bob Iger, head of ABC owner The Walt Disney Co., "but I think we all know there's absolutely no quit in Barbara."

Several party guests, when asked by The Associated Press what makes Walters special, had their own way of singing her praises:

George Stephanopoulos (ABC newsman): "It's the elegance of simplicity: She knows the best way to get the deepest answers is to ask the deepest questions, which are often the shortest and most direct."

Alexandra Wentworth (actress-comedian): "It's her perseverance. She's driven in a great way, in every aspect of her life. Look what she's done for women in journalism!"

Alec Baldwin (actor): "You just feel different when you're talking to somebody who's a very bright person — and she's a ferociously bright woman. It's like hitting a tennis ball to someone who you know can hit the tennis ball right back to you."

Woody Allen (actor-filmmaker-writer-humorist): "She's intelligent. She's got a knack for ingratiating herself, so you warm up to her very quickly. She draws you in and you feel very comfortable with her."

Connie Chung (TV journalist): "When I got into the business, Barbara was the only woman who had already made inroads in the business. And even though we were at competitive networks, she would always call me or write me a note if she thought I did a good interview. She 'Mom-ed' me, even though I told her she wasn't old enough to. She was driven, and always a good sport. I followed in her footsteps."

Michael Douglas (actor): "She's a combination of great organizational skills and chutzpah and yet, being a Libra, she's very simpatico, someone who's very, very sympathetic."

Henry Kravis (businessman): "What she's so good at is getting you to talk. She asks you a question, and you WANT to tell her."

Rudolph Giuliani (businessman, former New York mayor): "She has a remarkable ability to get you to talk about your personal life. Particularly when you're a public figure, you go into an interview with a high-level journalist feeling defensive. But she finds a way to make you feel normal, human — and then she gets the biggest secrets out of you!"

___

EDITOR'S NOTE — Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore@ap.org and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier. Past stories available at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/frazier-moore

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