Barbara Walters once hired a Green Beret to track down her hard-partying runaway daughter

Barbara Walters once hired a Green Beret to track down her hard-partying runaway daughter

Barbara Walters had such a tumultuous relationship with her adopted daughter Jacqueline that, at one point, the legendary journalist hired a former Green Beret to track down the girl after she ran away in high school.

“Barbara concluded that being adopted was an important factor behind her daughter’s travails,” writes Susan Page in her upcoming biography, “The Rulebreaker: The Life and Times of Barbara Walters.” “Still, Barbara never expressed regret about adopting Jackie, whatever their turmoil.”

In 1968, the “Today” show alum was married to her second husband Lee Guber and was eager to have a child after suffering a couple of miscarriages.

Walters and her second husband Lee Guber adopted Jacqueline when she was a newborn. Courtesy Barbara Walters

Walters’s longtime pal, infamous attorney Roy Cohn, found a baby girl for them to adopt and they were over the moon, collecting her four days after her birth. But, the ambitious newswoman did not let motherhood keep her from the job.

Walters had suffered miscarriages before turning to adoption. Getty Images
Walters was married to Guber for nine years before splitting. Getty Images

“I took her home on a Friday, and I went to the office on Monday,” Walters later said.

Walters and Guber split after nine years of marriage when Jackie was just three.

Strings were pulled to get Jacqueline into Dalton, the elite private school on the Upper East Side. But, as Jackie grew older, Walters “would be perplexed and disappointed that she didn’t share her passions for the city, for society and fashion, for whatever news was breaking and whatever newsmaker was breaking it,” Page writes.

And, Dalton was difficult for the youngster.

Jacqueline was an “indifferent student” and “had few friends” according to the new book.

Jacqueline (pictured) was named after Walters’s mentally disabled sister, Jackie. Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

“She towered over the other kids in her class, pushing six feet tall when she was twelve years old, making her feel even more like a misfit,” writes Page. “She would host sleepovers at her apartment but rarely be invited back to other girls’ homes.”

Jane Pauley once remarked that: “If Barbara is couture, Jackie is fleece.”

By the time Jacqueline was a teen, she and her mother “had been at odds for years, their relationship was in a downward spiral,” Pages writes.

Jacqueline was acting out, “drinking booze, popping Quaaludes, and smoking pot … At thirteen, she would sneak out of the apartment in fishnet stockings and a miniskirt to party at Studio 54 and return home at four in the morning.”

She left or was forced out of Dalton and then dispatched to boarding schools for troubled teens from wealthy families. She got expelled from a school in Connecticut for being off-campus.

After some stormy teen years, the pair mended their relationship.
Walters explained that her daughter did not want to be in the spotlight.

Then, in the summer of 1985, Walters enrolled her daughter in a residential program for high school students at the Parsons School of Design in Los Angeles.

Two weeks later, Walters got a call that Jacqueline had disappeared. She had run away with a friend she had made in Connecticut.

“For four frantic days, Barbara had no idea where her teenage daughter had gone,” Page writes.

“I was a runaway,” Jacqueline told NBC in 2002. “I loved to run. I thought running would solve all my problems.”

Eventually, someone contacted Walters to tell her Jacqueline was safe in New Mexico. They spoke and the “20/20” star sent a former Green Beret, who specialized in picking up runways, to collect her daughter, who was then placed in an intervention program in Idaho.

Jacqueline opened a residential program for at-risk girls which eventually closed. Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Jacqueline, who did not respond to a request for comment, eventually earned her high school diploma in the Idaho program. She then moved to Portland, Oregon, and enrolled at a community college but never ended up taking any classes.

Eventually, she moved to Maine, and, in 2001 with Walters’ help, bought 308 acres of fields in a rural area. There, she opened a small residential program for “at-risk girls, girls with challenges like those that she had faced.”

By that time, she and her mom had smoothed things over enough that the two of them appeared in a joint interview for an ABC special about adoption.

“The relationship was no longer so fraught,” writes Page.

Jacqueline found herself in the public eye when she was arrested for a DUI. WireImage

Jaqueline’s program enrolled more than 300 girls before closing in 2008.

She married and divorced twice, and, in 2013, was charged with driving under the influence in Florida.

Since her mother’s passing in 2022, Jacqueline has stayed out of the spotlight, which, seemingly is what she wanted all along.

“Jackie has found it difficult all her life because she wants to be anonymous, she just doesn’t like to be a celebrity,” Walters said in her 2014 retirement special. “She may be the only one in the world who doesn’t like to be a celebrity.”

Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.