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Barbara Walters on Her 50 Years in Television

Aired September 21, 2010 - 21:00   ET



LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight. The one and only Barbara Walters is here for her 20th and final visit to this show. She'll tell us how she bounced back from heart surgery, never missing a beat. And how she stayed at the top of the broadcast news business for five decades.

TV icon Barbara Walters for the hour is next on LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: Good evening. Barbara Walters -- if I have to tell you this, you're on another planet -- is the Emmy-winning executive producer, co-host of the "The View." By the way, their 3,000th episode airs this week.

Barbara is a "New York Times" best-selling author and she hosts "Here's Barbara" on Sirius Radio.

BARBARA WALTERS: And I do specials. I have three coming up. Specials. Hour specials for ABC News.

KING: I thought you were dropping that?

WALTERS: No, I didn't drop it. And they didn't drop me.

KING: You just dropped the Academy Award thing?

WALTERS: I just -- yes.


WALTERS: We'd still do "Ten Most Fascinating People" and we're doing two other big specials. One on open heart surgery. And then one with somebody else I can't announce yet.

KING: You're going to do four specials.

WALTERS: You always did more --

KING: I'm not trying to --

WALTERS: Whatever I did to --

(LAUGHTER) KING: All right.

WALTERS: I just want to say when you say that it's the last time I'm going to be on "The View," oh gee, we've had so many good times together.

KING: Twenty visits.

WALTERS: I know. But you've been on, what, 25 years?

KING: Twenty-five and a half.

WALTERS: So why did I miss those five years? What's wrong? What -- five years I wish --

KING: Well, we were nothing then. No, you came on when you were hip.


KING: By the way, the open -- did you have open heart surgery?


KING: It's a misnomer, isn't it, in a sense?


KING: It's open chest surgery.

WALTERS: It's open chest.

KING: Yes.

WALTERS: Yes. They don't open your heart.


WALTERS: They open your chest.

KING: You had a valve.

WALTERS: I had a valve.

KING: Replacement?

WALTERS: Replacement.

KING: How did you know there was something wrong?

WALTERS: I didn't know really. I didn't have the symptoms. One of the things -- without going through every detail, but one of the things I hope by doing this special that I've talked about, women have different symptoms than men. Did you know that? Men --

KING: I know they have a lot of heart disease, though. WALTERS: But they don't get treated in the same way. Men have --

KING: I know. Go home with chest pain.

WALTERS: They talk about, you know, a pain in the arm. Women have other things. Women have fatigue. Women have sweats and so forth. I had almost no symptoms. And I -- you know, I'd gone to the doctor, had an echo cardiogram. And he said you've got a valve that's getting smaller.

And I said, well, you know, I can wait. Maybe next year and so forth. And I have no symptoms and then I woke up there's a fountain in New York, in Central Park called the Bethesda Fountain, and I walk to work almost every day with two people I'm very close to, Lori Klein who does my make-up and Bryant Renfroe who does my hair.

KING: They're both here.

WALTERS: They're both here. And we walked through in the morning, and when we climb to the fountain, we're a little out of breath but so were they. And one day, I said to them, I feel a little pressure in my chest, do you? And they said, no.

And when I went to the doctor, he said, you know, that's a sign. And just to make this story short, I wanted -- I was thinking of doing it in the summer. They tell you not to go in the hospital in July because that's when the residents change. "Grey's Anatomy" it isn't.

So I was going to go in in August. And then when I had such a big May. I was either giving an award or presenting something. And I said to my cardiologist, well, you know, could I wait until the end of May for this because, you know, it didn't seem to look good?

And he said, you can wait, but there's a small risk that you could drop dead. I said --

KING: Let's do it tomorrow.

WALTERS: Exactly. And I told no one until I announced it on the air.

KING: Your first show back to work, you wanted David Letterman to be your guest. You swapped heart stories. Let's take a look.


WALTERS: Let's talk the difference between yours and mine. Because yours were arteries.


WALTERS: And mine was --

LETTERMAN: Yes, I had coronary artery disease. You just blew out a valve. You could have -- you could have gone on to Tune-up Masters.


WALTERS: Wait. Just a second because, yours was -- that your arteries were blocked?

LETTERMAN: That's right.

WALTERS: Mine was like one of the four -- the four valves was closing. And I have a pig valve in mine. You don't have any pig valve in yours. I have a pig valve.


WALTERS: You don't have a pig valve.

LETTERMAN: I have other pig parts on me, though.


WALTERS: Actually, I have a cow valve.

KING: Yes, you told me this. I never heard of a cow valve.

WALTERS: No, they exist. It's just I have a moo.

KING: So you said pig valve -- there it goes. Everyone --

WALTERS: I know I made a mistake.


WALTERS: It affected my brain.


KING: Letterman and I have the same doctor, Wayne Isom.

WALTERS: And you had the same --

KING: Same surgery.


KING: He had quintuple, and I had quintuple. They didn't cut open your chest, right?


KING: The doctors.


KING: They did.

WALTERS: They did. KING: But they go into different route.

WALTERS: They --

KING: Yes.

WALTERS: I may have sound so awful.

KING: Sounds weird.

WALTERS: But I didn't really have a terrible time. You know, you're supposed to get depressed. Very often you do. I didn't. I wasn't in pain.

KING: Were you a good patient?

WALTERS: Yes. But, I mean, I guess I was in good shape. And the time that I first came back on the show because I was going to take the summer off was when President Obama came on the show in late July. And I thought I can't miss this.

KING: Not you, Barbara.

Barbara showed her "View" audience her scar. Let's take a look.


WALTERS: If you want to see my scar --


SHERRY SHEPHERD, CO-HOST: You've got to --


WALTERS: You are looking at it.

SHEPHERD: What do you mean?


WALTERS: My scar starts somewhere around here.

SHEPHERD: I don't see it.

JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST: Do you have makeup on it?

WALTERS: You do -- no, I have a little bit but you wouldn't see it.

HASSELBECK: Yes. I mean I'm right next to you, Barbara.


WALTERS: That you see?

GOLDBERG: I thought that was cleavage.

HASSELBECK: I barely see that.


HASSELBECK: Really does look cleavage.

SHEPHERD: It does. You can't --

WALTERS: You do not see it.

GOLDBERG: That's fantastic.


KING: It's a great piece of work, that surgeon. I have very thin line, too. It's amazing. Because some people have it, I mean you can really see the scar.

WALTERS: Can we discuss something else?

KING: OK. Yes.

WALTERS: I hate people who sit there and say, let me tell you about my operation. Let me tell you about my operation.

KING: They think you're healthy now.

WALTERS: I feel great. It's over with. I don't have to think about it, pig or cow or whatever. I can just sit back and enjoy (INAUDIBLE).

KING: One other thing on Facebook -- we have Facebook questions. You have Facebook, right?

WALTERS: No, I'm not on Facebook.

KING: Well, I'm on it, but I don't know what to do with it. CNN has me on it. But I don't know.

WALTERS: Really? Well, all your friends --

KING: I've never looked at it.

WALTERS: -- said, all about millions of people who love you is supposed to call up and be your friends.

KING: Star Jones, this Facebook says, Star Jones has heart surgery earlier this year. Did you ever compare notes?


KING: No. All right. You kicked off your 14th season earlier this month and the 3,000th episode is this Thursday.

WALTERS: Yes. KING: Did you ever think you had longevity?

WALTERS: No, you know what happened was that the network -- we are on at 11:00 in most of the country, 10:00 in Los Angeles. And the network was having trouble. It was a bad time period because 9:00 in the morning, 10:00 in the morning, the woman is still home by 11:00, they're shopping, their picking up the kids at, you know, school. The little ones and so on.

And they said to me -- they said to Bill Geddie, who's my producer, my specialist, do you have any ideas for a show? And I said, well, I have an idea for a show which was sort of based when David Brinkley was to put the panel together, it still exists, he used to do it on the Sunday news program.

And I said, I'd like to do that, different women of different generations, discussing the topics of the day. That's how the show began. It's not a very difficult format. What we have gotten right is the chemistry.

I mean, there are so many shows that are going on the air that are copying us. We have been very fortunate in having the right chemistry.

KING: You were on with us right before it began. How did you pick that great name "The View"?

WALTERS: I think we were going to call it "The View from Here" or something that was taken. It was already taken. But at the time, most of what I was doing, I was on "20/20" then, ABC News' magazine, every week. And this was kind of on the side.

And Roone Arledge, who was a wonderful president of ABC News, said I don't want you to do this. It's going to lessen your reputation. People think of you as a very serious journalist. And you're going to do this stuff with the other women?

And I said, well, you know, I won't -- I'll do it two days a week. And Joy Behar was supposed to take my place the other three days. She's the only one who's still on the show after 14 years.

KING: How many days you average a week now?

WALTERS: Now three.

KING: The president of Iran, by the way --

WALTERS: But you know -- we never thought that it would go on.

KING: I'll go get a break. You know about these things.

WALTERS: Go ahead.

KING: Television.

WALTERS: I understand. (LAUGHTER)

KING: The president of Iran will be our guest tomorrow night. Back with Barbara Walters after this. And we'll talk about her guest Thursday night. Don't go away.


KING: Tina Fey is Barbara Walters' featured guest on "The View's" 3,000th episode this Thursday morning. Tina wrote some interesting parodies of the show for "Saturday Night Live." Let's take a look.


TAYLOR SWIFT, SINGER: I'm doing lots of press.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, Kate, for someone who has absolutely no experience in this experience in this industry, other than wrangling a bunch of kids into a minivan on camera, you seem very self-assured.

SWIFT: Thank you for saying that, Barbara. Actually, every day I practice empathically talking in front of a mirror.

FRED ARMISEN, ACTOR/COMEDIAN: You know, the only thing I practice in front of a mirror is sucking in my back fat. So watch me kick.

KENAN THOMPSON, COMEDIAN: I don't even own a mirror. The last time I looked in the mirror, I gave myself one of these. And you know what would win? The mirror gave me one of these.


KING: You know years ago --

WALTERS: That's very funny.

KING: When Gilda Radner did you with Baba Wawa, you didn't like it at first, right?

WALTERS: I didn't at all. I mean it was when I first left NBC where I had been very happy and went to ABC to be the first female co- anchor of a network news program.

KING: Sad days for you.


WALTERS: -- that I was failing, and she did Baba Wawa. And it really bothered me being made fun of until I walked into my little girl's room, she shouldn't have been watching television, but she was.

And she said, oh, mommy, she's so cool. And I thought -- I thought -- I thought I learned to laugh at myself. And after she died, I wrote a letter to her wonderful husband and said how sad I was because she died much too young. And I signed it Baba Wawa.

KING: The show on Thursday, Tina Fey is the special guest. Good guest.

WALTERS: Yes. And we have a surprise guest.

KING: You have a surprise guest.

WALTERS: Yes. And we do, we sort of look back of all of the years and -- well, we have somewhat different cast. But all of the different -- each one of us, perhaps what we remember the most, what was the most important.

I think that the one that I chose was coming back on the air after 9/11 because for a program that is somewhat newsy. But also it's supposed to be entertaining. That for me was a very hard time. Each of the women picked their own segment.

KING: When did "The View" start making news? Fairly the last couple of years?

WALTERS: I thought the last -- I think we made news before it. But the last couple of years we've become much more political. And maybe because of this -- particular cast, which is politically oriented and Whoopi really cares, Elisabeth Hasselbeck does, Sherry's tepid desert homeward, Joy, you know, who is a flaming liberal.

And once we had Barack Obama on the summer, I mean we've had, what, Valerie Jarrett who is the --

KING: The chief aide.

WALTERS: One the three number-one assistants. We had Colin Powell on last week. We have -- and some of the guest you've had. We had Prime Minister Blair on with us. We had Jimmy Carter yesterday. So we can be -- you know, we can ask the tough questions. And then at the next moment, you know, be -- we hope -- amusing.

KING: How long are you going to keep on doing this?

WALTERS: I knew you're going to ask me that. I said -- I said you know, he's going to say to me how long are you going to keep doing this, and I have a prepared answer.

KING: What is your prepared answer?

WALTERS: Here is my prepared answer. I will know when the time is right to leave, because you did. And --

KING: You know when it's time. You do.

WALTERS: I -- yes. And the program is very successful. I'm having a good time. I'm in very good health. I will not be doing this forever. I myself know when the time is. But right now, I feel valued and happy.

KING: We couldn't have it any other way.

WALTERS: If even if that were not the prepared answer, that's what I would say.

KING: We'll be back with Barbara Walters. Don't go away.




HASSELBECK: He did say he would do it. That's the problem.

SHEPHERD: I'm saying it's not just him.

WALTERS: He's trying.

SHEPHERD: He's been trying to do it.

WALTERS: You don't just say do it today. It does take time to prepare. He has to talk to the military. They weigh in --

HASSELBECK: There's a reason why.

HASSELBECK: It's happening -- would somebody give me credit --


WALTERS: Wait, wait. Will you say something good about the Republicans?


WALTERS: Will you say something --

HASSELBECK: I do. Often.

WALTERS: No, no, no. Let's just --

HASSELBECK: He got information from generals.

WALTERS: You know, I leave this program, as all of us do, and I know what Whoopi goes through. I leave at the end of this day, I'm so tired, and I haven't done anything.


WALTERS: And that was today. That was today. Whoopi's been off for a few days. So I was moderating.

KING: Did you ever lose it, Barbara?


KING: Never gets -- no? WALTERS: Because we do -- you know, they do have very furious arguments, but we genuinely like each other. And when we get into the station break, you know, it's kind of, you know, this is the way we feel. This is the way you feel. And there isn't that animosity.

I said today, Larry is going to ask how we get along and Joy said tell him we hate each other.

KING: But I've been there for some of that. And I've seen them -- you both argued before.


KING: Then they went to the end, they all go back to the room.

WALTERS: Yes. Then we pick up the next subject. It's really amazing. And we're not afraid to argue. And sometimes it gets very intense.

KING: I know how competitive you are.

WALTERS: Less than I was. Much less am.

KING: Are you concerned that CBS is starting a show -- I want to get this right -- called "The Talk." It'll be co-hosted by Julie Chen, Sarah Gilbert, Sharon Osbourne, Holly Robinson Peete, Leah Remini, and Marissa Jaret Winocur.

"The Talk."

WALTERS: Well, you know, there have been --

KING: Is going on against you?

WALTERS: No, it's going on I think in the afternoon. Look, Dick Clark did a show that was on then. There was a time when they were trying to take the third hour of "Today" and make it that kind of a show. I hear that there may be something on Oprah's new network.

Look, as I said, it's not the most amazing concept to put people together. You see it as a panel every Sunday. The last section of the news shows. I think what has made ours what it is, we first of all have this -- Bill Geddie is a superb producer.

KING: Great guy.

WALTERS: And the show moves -- and it's funny and it's strong. And then we've just been very lucky with our cast. Even those with, you know --

KING: That was the most troublesome time.

WALTERS: Well, it ended in a difficult way, and I have -- you know, I have respect for Rosy. I think she's a big talent. But when I asked Rosy to be in the show, that wasn't a mistake. I mean she was wonderful on the show. I think the problem is, if I have to think about it now, is that she said she didn't want to drive the bus, she wanted to be a passenger. And she's such a big talent. She wanted to drive the bus.

KING: Yes.

WALTERS: But, you know, we've been very courageous in the way and the people that we've picked. Look at Whoopi. I mean, you know, we took a chance on Whoopi. She had not done this kind of a show. She's been simply wonderful. The audience loves her.

KING: What do you make of Oprah leaving and starting a network?

WALTERS: You know, this woman, I have such admiration --


WALTERS: And what she has done and how she has conducted her life. And she's been doing it for 25 years. That's a long time. You are doing it for 25 years. I did "20/20" for 25 years.

And there comes a point -- that's why, I mean the "The View" for me is something different. There comes a point where it begins to become, what, again, another guest? Another big get? People don't understand how tough it is to get the guest. What you finally --

KING: And then when it's over what do you do in the morning.

WALTERS: Yes, exactly. And Larry King got the guest. Well, how come you didn't? How many times did you and I, even though we're crazy about each other, you know, try to get the best?

And I think that for Oprah, she's still young enough to have a whole of a chapter. There's no one like Oprah.

KING: President Obama appeared on "The View" in July. He was the first sitting president to appear on a daytime talk show. Watch.


WALTERS: Were you invited to Chelsea Clinton's wedding?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, I was not invited because I think that Hillary and Bill properly want to keep this as a thing for Chelsea and her soon-to-be husband.

And I'm going to have -- I'm letting you guys know now, y'all probably will not be invited to Malia's wedding or Sasha's wedding.

WALTERS: Have boys entered the picture yet for your girls?

OBAMA: Thankfully no.


(END OF VIDEO CLIP) KING: Do you like him?

WALTERS: We also asked him very serious questions. It's a great honor for us, no matter how you felt politically.

KING: Sure was.

WALTERS: To have the president of the United States on a daytime talk show with five women, you know, asking questions.

Yes, I do like them. I think -- you know, Jimmy Carter who was on your program and mine talked about the things that he accomplished while he was in office for which he was not appreciated.

And I think Obama, says but I've done this, and we did that, and we've avoided the recession, and whatever you think of a health care bill, we have -- so on and so on and so. People say his message has not gotten through. And perhaps it will. But do I like him personally? Yes, I do.

KING: President Carter said he's never seen the country as split and as angry as it is.

WALTERS: As angry.

KING: Boy.

WALTERS: That's what scary.

KING: No civility.

WALTERS: Even when George Bush where people, you know, were so divided about the Iraq war. But the country wasn't angry. They may have been angry at him, but it wasn't that -- I find that very worrisome. The kind of anger and vitriol that we're hearing. It's something that somehow we have to find moderation.

KING: We'll ask Barbara about the parties -- the Tea Party's new it girl, Christine O'Donnell of Delaware next. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Barbara Walters, 3,000th show celebration this Thursday. Tina Fey and surprises, Thursday morning.

What do you -- by the way, Jerry Seinfeld is our guest Thursday night. We taped it earlier.

WALTERS: I hear it was hilarious.

KING: Plenty of style. It was -- hilarious hour. Anyway, what do you make of O'Donnell, the Tea Party, the whole phenomenon?

WALTERS: Christine O'Donnell --

KING: The story. WALTERS: The perhaps Republican nominee in -- she is the Republican nominee in Delaware. I don't agree with many of her social views which I'm not going to delineate. I try to keep my political opinions to myself. So I don't agree with that.

The big question, though, when she said this I -- you know, I played with witchcraft and so forth but gee, I was in high school. I mean how far back, I think that's an unfair criticism.

How far back do we go and look at someone and say, aha, that's wrong today. She was on Bill Maher's show. I forgive her that. Her views and her stand --

KING: It's fair game?

WALTERS: That's something -- that's something that has to be examined. But you asked --


KING: What do you make of the Tea Party phenomenon?

WALTERS: Well, it was pretty much what we were talking about. There's a great deal of rage. But one of the things that Obama when I was reading (INAUDIBLE) this morning, he said I wish the day the Tea party or even the Republicans, if they want to cut spending, tell me what you want to cut.

Do you want to cut the money for veterans? Do you want to cut Medicare? Do you -- tell me what you want to cut. Don't just be mad. And I think this feeling of, you know, that everything is going wrong and I'm furious, and I don't want this, and I don't want --

They haven't said what it is that could be done positively. And I hope that that will happen because there is genuine anger and there's reason for the anger. But then let's look at the solutions instead of just screaming and yelling. That's something that I said to the women on "The View" today. Stop screaming.

KING: They scream a lot on "The View."

WALTERS: They do. They are active.

KING: Are you planning a show with just men? That's a rumor.

WALTERS: We -- no, we are not planning -- the answer to your question is no, we are not planning a show with just men.

KING: Couldn't work in the daytime?

WALTERS: Well, Dick Clark did it. You see and I think it --

KING: But didn't work, did it?

WALTERS: Well, I think it becomes a travesty because then you have men putting on panty hose and so forth. I think there may be a place -- and we did it this summer -- to have a mixed audience. I mean a mixed panel. And at the moment, we have no plans.

KING: But you wouldn't be adverse to exec-producing the show, either?

WALTERS: I think we have to have a show that has a reason and that has a format. I mean this is what's been so good -- this is why we've lasted for 14 years. We really have known what we're doing.

KING: You had Lady Gaga on. We had her on.

WALTERS: We did almost the first interview with Lady Gaga.

KING: What do you make of her?

WALTERS: Well, this was very funny. Because I thought that she was going to come on and put me on. I'd seen one interview that she had done where she was very black and -- so I thought this is going to be dreadful. She's going to think I'm very square. I'm going to have a very hard time.

She came on in a stunning Chanel suit. She took off her sunglasses. She said I will only do this for you. It was a very intelligent interview. She said she -- I didn't know if she was doing it out of respect for me or what. Or whether it was just because -- I don't know. Whatever her reason, she was wonderful. And we did it in "Ten Most Fascinating People."

Nobody knew who she was. This was two years ago. We had to practically explain to the audience who she was. Look what has happened in two years.

KING: She's quite a girl, though.

WALTERS: She has great talent. And I liked her a lot. I like everybody a lot these days.

KING: You interviewed Sarah Palin, but she won't do it anymore, right?

WALTERS: No, she won't do "the View." I kind of understand. Listen, sometimes it's hard to have all of these women. That's why I thought the president was very brave. But I did interview her for ABC News. And she's very charming and very likable. And so is her husband.

KING: Tell me about what happened between Michaele Salahi, the White House interrupters, and your show backstage. What happened?

WALTERS: Oh, it was crazy. So she's on with the other women -- she's on with the other women, and they start off spatting with each other. You were drunk; no, I wasn't. You were drunk; no, I wasn't. Not all of us were doing the interview. Just two of the women were doing the interview.

And Whoopi, who occasionally walks out, walked out and touched her arm like that and said, get back to the White House. She thought enough of this conversation. When it was over, she met with the -- what's her first name?

KING: Mikaela.

WALTERS: She was crying and said Whoopi hit. Whoopi never hit hurt. So Whoopi admittedly -- then the husband started to take pictures over the flip phone. Whoopi then opened her mouth and used, as she said, some choice words. Some very choice words.

KING: You were witnessing all of this.

WALTERS: I heard about it afterwards. I wasn't there. If I had been there at the time, I would have told her to stop crying and I would have gotten Whoopi out of the room. But we talked about it the next day. Whoopi was very honest. She always is. We showed with an isolated camera -- the Iso Camera -- that Whoopi, all she did was just say, talk about the White House. And it became a big thing. And it's over.

KING: Why are the Salahis famous?

WALTERS: Why are the reality shows famous?

KING: You tell me.

WALTERS: Well, a little bit of controversy, a little bit of trouble. And we have to fill hours and hours. Bravo, which probably does them more than anybody else, that's their whole program. You know, the cable shows, your own, it's talk, talk, talk. And if you can find a bone to chew on, you'll chew it until there's this much of the bone. It's a different time in television.

KING: But these people become a hit who -- become a hit for being a hit?

WALTERS: For being messy or for being silly. You know, it seems to me all they do is drink and shop. Where are we going today? Where are we drinking? Where are we shopping? You know, they're famous for being famous. Where will they be ten years from now? They'll be rich. I don't think they'll be on the air.

KING: Who is your surprise guest? I just threw it in. I just threw it in. Just thinking about it. All right --

WALTERS: I wish it were you, darling. But it isn't.

KING: I'll be there.

WALTERS: I hope you will be. You've got to come on, let me do your last interview.

KING: Male or female?

WALTERS: Male or female what?

KING: The surprise guest. That's all I'm asking.



WALTERS: You won't guess. I won't tell you.

KING: Oh, he wouldn't do that -- he's going to do the show?


KING: Him.


WALTERS: You are sly.

KING: We'll be right back with Barbara, one of my favorite people. Don't go away.



ELIZABETH HASSELBECK, "THE VIEW": Season fourteen, are you ready for it?

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, "THE VIEW": I'm ready, but Barbara is coming back today, right?


GOLDBERG: Wait, there she is now.

WALTERS: Hi, Elisabeth. Hi, Whoopi.

HASSELBECK: Hey, Barbara, how are you feeling?

WALTERS: I'm feeling great.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm excited this is a new season, Joy. You know what? We are going to go out there and we are going to make a bang every single time.

JOY BEHAR, "THE VIEW": What are we going to do?

WALTERS: Whoo, that was fun. Just a touch up.


KING: Who came up with that bit?

WALTERS: Do you want me to do it now for you?

KING: Yeah.

WALTERS: Bill Getty.

KING: Great bit.

WALTERS: Wasn't it?

KING: Great idea. Who did the twirling?

WALTERS: We hired a young woman.

KING: A gymnast I hope.

WALTERS: Yeah. Yes, listen, you know, I could stand up and sit down and so on. And then we got -- we had the matching sweat pant suit. And then we got a wig and did the same look as mine. We made sure the hair was the same and the makeup was the same.

KING: And it worked?

WALTERS: It worked. That was the day that I -- the first day that I came back for good, the day after Labor Day, when "The View" began it's new season.

KING: Your network has a major hit, "Dancing With the Stars."

WALTERS: Yes, we showed some of them today.

KING: How do you explain that phenomenon.

WALTERS: First of all, I think everybody loves dancing. It's fun to see them dance. And what they accomplished -- Bristol Palin was on today and "The Situation," as they call him. And what they accomplished in a couple weeks, or even four or five days, is wonderful. It's an exciting kind of contest. And they're not -- "Dancing With the Stars" is sort of dancing with the semi-stars, isn't it? Or the want to be stars.

But it's fun. And also, throughout the history of television and radio, we love contests. I mean, you know, years ago, there was -- what's that thing

KING: "Amateur Hour." Sinatra went on that show.

WALTERS: Beverly Sills went on I think "Lost." We've always loved contests. This is something that's just fun to watch. We're supposed to have -- this year, we're supposed to have all the losers on "The View" after they've lost.

KING: When they get knocked off. Sandra Bullock was one of your interview specials.

WALTERS: Academy Award night.

KING: Why does everybody love her?

WALTERS: Because she's adorable. It was interesting because we were asked, and I -- because it was Academy Award night and because I'm fond of her, we were told please don't ask about her children, so I didn't. One week later, out came the "People Magazine" story about her little boy being adopted.

KING: Did that bug you?

WALTERS: You know, I wish they'd told me. But she is delightful. She is natural. She has a great sense of humor. I love Sandra Bullock.

KING: By the way, we have a Facebook question: "if you could interview anyone alive that you didn't already interview, who would you choose?"

WALTERS: The pope.

KING: Me too.

WALTERS: Queen Elizabeth. You always want the person who won't do any. But probably we'd all want to do the Pope. Wouldn't we?

KING: Oh, yes.

WALTERS: Everybody else you've gotten.

KING: You did Fidel?

WALTERS: Yes, I did. I did a major interview with Fidel.

KING: Did he charm you?

WALTERS: Yes. And then I wanted to do another interview. There are a couple of things wrong with him, you know. He is a dictator. And doesn't ever allow dissent. I'm not just saying, oh, isn't he interesting. Then it took me 25 years to get the next interview. And I would love to do one now. I think it's the least he can do for me after all of those years. We keep putting our requests in. I don't know where they go, but they always seem -- don't we all. They don't seem to go to him.

KING: We'll be back with Barbara Walters; 3,000th show Thursday. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Barbara Walters. What was your most challenging interview over the years? Is it possible to pick one out?

WALTERS: Well, what comes into my mind are the number of murderers I've done, and the number of prisons I've been into. I mean, the interviews that you are proudest of -- you mentioned Fidel Castro or Anwar Sadat or -- I've interviewed -- so have you -- I think every president and every first lady and so on. But I think that I heard that John Lennon's murderer, Mark David Chapman, was just refused bail. So that's on my mind at the moment, because I just heard it.

KING: I've done him, but not in prison. WALTERS: I did him in prison. At the end of it, he kept saying, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, I'm so -- I mean, it was very strange. The Menendez Brothers.

KING: I had one of them on.

WALTERS: We had both of them on after they were sentenced. And Eric Menendez, who still writes to me --

KING: Bright guy.

WALTERS: Very. Said, I'm just a normal boy. I said, Eric, you're a normal boy who killed your mother and father. Those kinds of -- Jean Harris, I did almost every -- remember, she skilled the Scarsdale doctor. I did so many interviews with her and had such empathy for her that my network said you can't interview her anymore. Your prejudice is showing.

KING: The most amazing thing was how Mario Cuomo, very sensitive guy, would not pardon her.

WALTERS: He would not pardon her.

KING: Shane Alexander tried to get her out.

WALTERS: He said if I did it with her, I would have to do it with the others. I saw Jean after she got out of prison. She's leading a nice --

KING: What does she do? Is she still around?

WALTERS: Yeah. She has two very fine and very devoted sons. And she did a lot to bring about better relationships for the prisoners with their children, because there were no facilities for the children. There were no picture books or crayons or so forth. There was no opportunity for them to go on to high school if they needed special training or for college. And she worked with one of the nuns on that. She tried very hard to live a productive life. And that was a crime of passion.

KING: Anybody you don't want to interview?

WALTERS: That I don't want to interview? You and I have -- people have said, would you interview bin Laden. Why would you give him air space?

KING: You got to.

WALTERS: In a moment, wouldn't you?

KING: In a second.

WALTERS: You have to kind of -- now I'm putting on the ABC News hat. You have to try as much as possible to be objective. Now, this is fading in years. I was brought up in the school of you don't give your opinions. You do you the interview. And if you do the right kind of an interview, you will get the person to --

KING: The audience should not know.

WALTERS: Let the audience judge. The audience will know how you feel. But there's almost -- I'm sure I'm going to go home tonight and say, oh, why didn't I say to Larry, and I'll call you at 3:00 in the morning. But, no, there's almost no interview that I wouldn't do.

KING: Me, too. Did you have a favorite subject that you do?

WALTERS: A favorite?

KING: Is there a favorite -- would you rather do an actor than --

WALTERS: No, no. I think that -- we do ten most fascinating people and usually one or two of them are actors. But they're not my favorite people to interview. I mean, that's why I stopped doing the Academy Awards. As much as I liked them, it got to me tired of the same questions and a lot of the same answers.

I mean, there are actors whom I like enormously. We have them all the time on "The View," although less celebrities than in the past. We're a little more political, a little more juicy, I think. No, they're not my favorite people. Comedians are very hard to interview. Someone like Jerry Seinfeld, who is so smart and discusses so many subjects, but very often is sort of bud-rum-pum.

KING: Bud-rum-pum.

Back with Barbara Walters. Look how healthy. Don't go away.


KING: Paul Reiser has answered five questions for our blog. Go to to see what the "Mad About You" star has to say about fame and what you might know, he's quite a musician.


KING: We're back with Barbara Walters. There were reports over the summer that HBO was interested in turning your best-selling memoir -- which great title, "Audition" -- into a movie? True?

WALTERS: Into a documentary.

KING: Follow you around and --

WALTERS: Not exactly. I mean, I can't tell you because it's down the line.

KING: They are going to do it?

WALTERS: Let's say we're in talks. But, for example, they did one with Ted Kennedy, which his story, but his voice over. I won't be on, I don't think. And it's -- KING: The Kennedy one was very good.

WALTERS: Very good. And I think a lot of it has to do with my early years on television, and -- because that's something that I think men can relate to, but certainly women can, some of the struggles, some of the humor, and a little -- and my childhood, which you knew my father, who was a very famous show business -- so I think it will deal with that. It will not, I wouldn't expect, deal with the interviews I've done now, although some of them because we have those interviews.

But it's just in the talking place. HBO is so creative and so imaginative.

KING: Was it hard to break ground?

WALTERS: Well, I didn't have a choice. I couldn't say well, I could do this or I could do that. What I did was not waving the flag and making -- you know, I'm going to be out there for women.

KING: You didn't kick the door open.

WALTERS: I did kick the door open, but I kicked the door open by my work, I hope, and not because I was -- I mean, I was not -- you know, I was not a television suffragette. I kicked the door open because after being there 11 years, I was named the first co-host of a morning program. And ever since then, every woman has been named a co-host. I kicked the door open when I did certain interviews that women weren't doing.

So I'm so proud of the women today. There are so many of them that are wonderful. That's my legacy. Maybe that's it more than any of the interviews I've done.

KING: No one makes a deal of it anymore.

WALTERS: Isn't that wonderful? You know?

KING: No kidding. We'll be back with our remaining moments and a look back over the career, she and I. With Barbara Walters next.


KING: As we mentioned before, this is Barbara's 20th and likely final appearance on "LARRY KING LIVE," So let's take a look at some of the fun we've had through the years.


WALTERS: I can remember just before the war in Iraq being in Jordan, trying to do an interview with King Hussein, sitting in the anteroom. What was everyone watching? Larry King.

I feel that we have different programs. I watch you myself. I'm hoping that everybody switches the channel at 10:00.

I have nothing to plug today, except my affection for you. That I'll plug any time.

KING: And now the grand dame Barbara Walters, who formed this show --

WALTERS: Couldn't you introduce me as the Grande dame?

KING: What would you like?

WALTERS: The young --


WALTERS: OK, sex pot.

KING: We'll do it over.

WALTERS: I'm different in the daytime.

KING: All right, sex pot. How do you --

KING: What if a network, CNN, someone came and said, do an hour.

WALTERS: I would never do CNN because there's only one Larry King and he's the best.

KING: Oh stop.

Is this the future, you and me on the ABC/CNN channel?

WALTERS: Wouldn't it be nice, Larry? We could finally be together?

KING: Yeah, for real.

Some day when I'm awfully low and the world is cold I'm going to feel a glow just thinking of you, and the way you look tonight


WALTERS: I love you, my friend. I wish you everything good.

KING: We still have a few minutes left.

WALTERS: I sort of liked that ending.

KING: Yeah. We should have -- we got to -- is there anything you haven't done that you tell yourself I should have done or I'd like to do?

WALTERS: Could have, should have, would have? I'm very big on could have, should have, would have. But I'm getting much better. I don't do that as much anymore.

No, I mean, I've got -- I'm fortunately in very good health. And I'm so blessed to have the life I have that I'm trying very hard to just enjoy it. KING: Has the surgery changed you?

WALTERS: I'm not sure, but I did say I'm not going to go to the big parties I don't want to go to. I'm not going to go to Shakespeare, whom I don't really like, plays of Shakespeare. Sorry. I'm not going to do the things that I think I should because I should show up and I should be seen. I'm going to just do things that give me great pleasure like tonight.

KING: Thank you. Are you still as aggressive as ever?

WALTERS: No, I think -- no, because on "The View" we don't have to get the biggest get. And on my specials, the "Ten Most Fascinating People" can be all kinds of people. I like to do the special on the open heart surgery and then I have another big interview -- that is a big get -- coming up. But no, I'm not in there every day making the phone calls.

KING: Did you do the big get already?

WALTERS: No, I have not done the big get already.

KING: Do you get -- do you get more up for the big get?

WALTERS: I want it to be -- I want it to be -- if you're going to get a get, you better get a good get and you better get along --

KING: Get the get and get it.

WALTERS: And get a good show.

KING: Are you more up for them, though?

WALTERS: It's not that I'm more up or not.

KING: You always want to do a good show.

WALTERS: The first week I came back on ABC, I was doing "The View," but I did a story on children with Prejoria (ph), which is a disease where children are born normal and then they get older and older and usually die by the time they're in their -- in their teens. And it had nothing to do with show business. And it was just a wonderful story.

KING: Brad Pitt did that movie.

WALTERS: Sort of, except Brad Pitt got younger and younger. These children get older and older. And there's only 65 of them I think in the world.

KING: There's only one Barbara Walters.

WALTERS: Thank you, Larry. There's only one Larry King.

KING: Thank you, darling. Her 3,000th show Thursday morning. Tina Fey and a surprise guest. And she didn't tell me who it was even off the air.

Iran's president will be here for the hour tomorrow night. Jerry Seinfeld Thursday. And the cast of "Saturday Night Live" on Friday. Anderson Cooper and "AC 360" is next. Anderson?