Barbara Walters sure knows how to pitch a memoir

By A. James Memmott

May 5, 2008 at 2:40pm

As a long-time interviewer of celebrities turned authors, Barbara Walters knows how to hype a book.

So it’s no surprise that in publicizing her new memoir, Audition, she’s leading with one of her juicier revelations.

Walters, who has been married and divorced three times, acknowledges that she had an affair in the 1970s with then Sen. Edward W. Brooke III, a Republican from Massachusetts.

Her news has brought new attention to Brooke, now retired and living in Miami.

A man who made history in 1966 when he became the first African-American popularly elected to the Senate, Brooke was a political liberal who often challenged his party.

He lost favor with some Republicans by opposing two of Richard Nixon’s ill-fated nominations to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A World War II combat veteran, he was against escalation of the war in Vietnam. And he was the first Republican to call for Nixon’s resignation in the wake of Watergate.

The former senator also is a kind of footnote to the early career of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a Democratic contender for the presidential nomination.

In 1969, Brooke was the commencement speaker at the Wellesley College graduation. Clinton - a graduating senior who had worked on behalf of Brooke’s campaign three years earlier - took the stage after him.

She spent the first few minutes of her time in an improvised attack on Brooke’s speech, which she had found out-of-touch.

“His words were aimed at a different Wellesley, one that predated the upheavals of the late 1960s,” she writes in her memoir, Living History.

In his own memoir published last year, Bridging the Divide: My Life, Brooke writes that it was clear Clinton “knew where she wanted to go and how she wanted to get there.”

“Nothing she has done or said since has changed my first impression,” he adds.

Walters’ memoir will be officially published Tuesday, the same day her previously taped interview with Oprah Winfrey about the memoir will be aired on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

In the book Walters, 78, calls Brooke, 88, “the most attractive, sexiest, funniest, charming and impossible man.”

The may put him at the top of the list of men Walters has dated, including Sen. John Warner of Virginia and Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Walters and Brooke met in 1973, a year before she became co-host of the Today show. A few months later they began their affair.

At the time, Walters was separated from her second husband, Lee Guber. Brooke was married to, but living apart from, his first wife, Remigia.

Eventually, Walters and Brooke ended the affair because they feared it would damage both their careers.

In 1976, Brooke filed for divorce. Two years later, the divorce was granted.

Brooke lost favor with the public when some of the details of divorce became public. He was defeated by Paul Tsongas, a Democrat, in his run for a third term in 1978.

Brooke and his second wife, Anne, were married in 1979.

In 2003, Brooke was diagnosed with breast cancer. He has since tried to raise awareness about the disease as it affects men. In 2004, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

He has declined to comment on Walters’ book. “I have had a lifetime policy and practice of not discussing my personal and private life, or the personal and private lives of others,” he said in a statement reported by the Associated Press.

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