Walters first became known as a television personality when she was a writer and segment producer of "women's interest stories" on the morning NBC News program The Today Show, where she began work with host Hugh Downs in 1962, once even modeling a swimsuit when an expected model did not show up. Because of her excellent interviewing ability and her popularity with the viewers, and when other women left the program, she was eventually allowed more air time. Even though her production duties made her a significant contributor to the show, she had no input in choosing a successor for Hugh Downs when he left the show in 1971. Frank McGee was hired. Although his salary was twice hers, at Frank McGee's death in 1974, because of a clause added to her contract by her agent, she acquired the title "co-host", the first woman by that title for any network news or public affairs program. Jim Hartz became her co-host. Two years later, continuing as a pioneer for women, she became the first female co-anchor of any network evening news, working with Harry Reasoner on the ABC News flagship program ABC Evening News.
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