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NEW YORK (CAP) - After centuries of keeping mum, Barbara Walters is disclosing an affair she had during the Copper Age with a reportedly married 34-year-old man, whom she remembers as "exciting" and "brilliant" and whom paleontologists discovered more than 5,000 years later face-down encased in ice in the Alps in 1991.
Appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show scheduled to air next week, the ageless Walters shares details of her relationship with the man scientists discovered in the Oztal Alps between Austria and Italy and dubbed Otzi the Iceman. The affair lasted several centuries during the Copper Age and into the Bronze Age beginning sometime around 3300 BC, according to a transcript of the show provided to CAP News.
A skilled metalworker from Europe, Otzi was one of the first homo sapiens to fashion and wield metal tools and weapons. Both he and Walters knew that public knowledge of their affair could have ruined his career as well as hers, Walters says.
At the time, the twice-divorced Walters was a 23-year-old a rising star in rock gathering, hunting, and metal tool construction. Much later, in the 1970s AD she became co-host of NBC's Today show, but would soon jump to ABC News, where she has enjoyed unrivaled success. Her affair with Otzi, which never before came to light, had ended before he died in the copper-rich Alps while prospecting for ore.
Walters will be on Oprah Winfrey to discuss her new memoir, Audition, which covers her long career in metal working, blacksmithing, printing, television, as well as her off-camera life. On Oprah, Walters recounts a advice from a part-man, part-beast cave-dwelling friend who urged her to stop seeing Otzi.
"He said, This come out. This going to ruin career," Walters remembers. Then this friend reminded her that Otzi was to be named leader of his tribe a year later. "This is going to ruin him. You got break this off."
Winfrey asks Walters if she was in love.
"I was certainly - I don't know - I was certainly infatuated," says Walters. "He was exciting. He was brilliant. It was an exciting time: the Copper Age in the Alps in Europe.
"I remember some very dear moments, like feeding the last dinosaur with him," Walters continues. "Years later, I was at the crucifixion of Jesus and I ran into one of his great, great, great grandsons. It was nice getting to hear how his family was doing.
"And then when they ever unearthed his skeletal remains in the early '90s - it was like a flood of memories came back. That's why I started writing the book."
Otzi later divorced, and remarried. Walters' 14-volume memoir will appear in bookstores later this month.
- John Gettings