Tonight’s Barbara Walters Oscar Special, airing at 7pm on ABC, will be her last. After twenty-nine years of interviewing famous actors — of interest to the public because they might receive a golden statue on the night of the program’s airing — Walters is hanging up her hat. And she has just one single regret over that nearly three-decade era: Ricky Martin.
Of her 93 interviews with A-list stars, Walter’s only admitted mistake is pushing Martin to address the rumors that he’s a ‘mo.
“In 2000, I pushed Ricky Martin very hard to admit if he was gay or not, and the way he refused to do it made everyone decide that he was,” she says now. “A lot of people say that destroyed his career, and when I think back on it now I feel it was an inappropriate question.”
Did Walters didn’t destroy his career? Well, she certainly didn’t help it, but the rumors were out there, and they still are, even as Martin grows increasingly closer to acknowledging his sexuality. There was no Twitter back then, so it’s hard to judge whether there would have been an even wilder storm over his remarks. But rather than leaving the issue alone, she pressed him: “You know, you could stop these rumors. You could say, as many artists have, ‘Yes I am gay,’ or you could say, ‘No I’m not,’ or you could leave it, as you are, ambiguous. I don’t want to put you on the stop, but it’s in your power to do it.”
In the above video clip from The View, which aired in 2006, Walters counts down her top thirty mistakes; Martin’s interview only makes the No. 5 spot.
(That doesn’t make Ricky Martin’s interview the one she detests the most: “I absolutely hated the year I had to sit down with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I don’t want to go down in history for doing that one. And the year I talked to Shrek? Please. Let me forget that.”)
In another interview with Martin, Walters asked less about his sexuality, and more about his romantic life — about how he’s enjoying his success (and whether he’s truly “livin’ la vida local“), and whether he’s seeing anyone, and whether he’s ever been in love. Walters delved into Martin’s personal life, the same way we expect entertainment journalists to do … with out heterosexual celebs.