Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Larry King Live

Barbara Olson Remembered

Aired December 25, 2001 - 21:00   ET



AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: The Pentagon, a portion of the Pentagon has collapsed...



TED OLSON, SOLICITOR GENERAL: And I jumped for the phone, so glad that -- to hear Barbara's voice. And then she told me, "Our plane has been hijacked."



PETER JENNINGS, ABC NEWS: Mrs. Olson, who is widely known to viewers of cable and to network television around the country, is the only, to the best of my knowledge, the only person who we have publicly identified today who has been killed...


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, a tribute to Barbara Olson, brainy, brave, beautiful, killed September 11 aboard the hijacked plane that hit the Pentagon. Her husband, Solicitor General Ted Olson, shares memories of her and talks about going on after a terrible loss.

That and more, next on a special edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

A special tribute tonight to a special lady, couldn't do it without talking with her husband, Ted Olson, solicitor general of the United States. His wife, Barbara, was on that tragic flight, American Airline flight 77.

It's been more than three months. Sometimes in early stages, Ted, of -- people are numbed and then hurt and then pain and then -- What stage are we in?

TED OLSON, U.S. SOLICITOR-GENERAL: Well, I don't know. You certainly are numbed. I mean, some kind of shock takes over you for a long period of time. And I've listened and talked to a lot of people that have been through somewhat comparable experiences. No experience is exactly the same. But I will tell you this, that everybody says, and it's absolutely true, family and friends keep you propped up, and you work from day to day and moment to moment. And gradually it gets a little bit more distant.

But as you know, Barbara was so full of life and such a big, huge presence, not only on the world stage but in my life, it will take forever. It will never, it will never be the same, obviously.

KING: The countless amount of time she sat right where you're sitting now on this show.

So friends, faith, and work. You went back to work very quickly.

T. OLSON: I went back to work on September 17, right away, because I felt that I had to have -- I couldn't just sit there and allow these emotions to overwhelm me. I felt that it was important to get back to work. I have a job in the government that needs to go on. I thought it was important for me and for the people that work for me, who work with me, that I be there, and that I could tell them that we're going to get back to work, and we're going to go through this.

I told the vice -- I gathered everybody in my office together, and we talked a little bit about Barbara, and I told them I was going to be OK, but I would need their help to be OK. And the people in my office responded beautifully. I love those people. They're -- many people are career people working for the government, and they surrounded me and propped me up like people that I've known for 20 or 30 years. It was a very gratifying experience.

KING: Have you been inside the Pentagon?

T. OLSON: No, I haven't gone to the Pentagon. I don't plan to do that.

KING: Didn't you, though, speak at a Pentagon ceremony?

T. OLSON: No, the ceremony that I think you're referring to was in the Department of Justice on December 11. And each of the agencies of government had a remembrance that day, the president at the White House, Secretary Rumsfeld at the Pentagon, and then I spoke at the Department of Justice ceremony.

KING: It'll be a while before you can go there, do you think?

T. OLSON: Yes, I don't even know if I ever will go there. Barbara's not there, Barbara's now been buried, thank goodness, and...

KING: They sent you some remains.

T. OLSON: They -- we -- they -- It took a long time to provide an identification, and then it took a long time because this is not just a tragedy, it's a criminal act, and there were evidence-gathering necessities. But finally they did release the remains of Barbara. And she's buried up in Door County, Wisconsin, very close to where she appeared on your show so many times last summer and a couple summers before, because she loved that place so much, and she's there now. Thank goodness...

KING: Whenever we see that scene, when it was not this set, it was Wisconsin.

T. OLSON: Ellison Bay, Wisconsin. She just thought it was so great to be on your show from Ellison Bay, Wisconsin. She was proud of the fact that both Larry King in Los Angeles and somebody in New York and somebody in Washington and Barbara Olson in Ellison Bay would sit...

KING: Ellison Bay, Wisconsin. So you don't think you'll ever go to the Pentagon. And have you been down to the World Trade Center?

T. OLSON: No, I haven't done that either. I may go to those places. I'm not sure, I just don't -- I'm not ready to go to those places. I don't feel the need to go to those places. Maybe I will. I mean, I think that's part of growing through this thing.

KING: We want to talk about Barbara and the holiday season and your memories and the like, but I must ask, did you watch the bin Laden tape?

T. OLSON: No. I didn't, I didn't watch it...


KING: By design, you didn't watch it.

T. OLSON: That's right. I didn't watch it, I didn't want to watch it. And it's very important not to carry the kind of anger and bitterness that a person might naturally feel. It seems to me that it doesn't do any good. I don't -- I'm very, very confident in our president and Secretary Rumsfeld and the people that are handling -- the -- Attorney General Ashcroft. And I don't need to be personally involved in that, and I don't think that that would be any good for me, to...

KING: It would have been very painful to see the man who is taking credit for killing your wife.

T. OLSON: Yes, it would have been very painful. And I didn't think it was necessary for me to see it. I would have -- certainly I would have been angry. I would have been very upset by it. And it doesn't do me any good to be angry at that person.

KING: Does it hurt that it's still a major story every day? You hear his name every day.

T. OLSON: I live with that as a reality. And I think it's important for all of the people -- I'm just one of several thousand people who have suffered something equally awful. I think that each of us are coping in our own way with what happened. Other people suffer tragedies every day. Ours is somewhat special. But I think it's very important that we each cope with it as best we can. I think it's important to us, I think it's important in my situation to the country, certainly important to me, that I cope with this and now allow it to swallow me up.

KING: The holiday season can be very painful to people for many reasons. What about this one for you?

T. OLSON: Well, this is going to be very difficult. It's the first one. Barbara loved Christmas. She put Christmas everywhere in her house, inside, outside. I could hardly restrain her from putting up more lights every year. Also her birthday was two days after Christmas, and Barbara was very insistent that her birthday not be swallowed by Christmas. So we celebrated Christmas with every ounce of our being, and every...

KING: She loved Christmas?

T. OLSON: She loved Christmas. But then it was very important that her birthday came next, and we celebrated her birthday, because Barbara, as everybody who watches your program knows, Barbara loved life and living and participating, and she insisted, and I totally agreed that we live Christmas, and then there was a break, and then we lived her birthday. And this is going to be very difficult.

KING: So you had the dilemma of double gifts.

T. OLSON: Barbara didn't mind double, triple, quadruple gifts.

KING: No, but everyone who has those close December births...

T. OLSON: Yes.

KING: ... has to deal with that.

So Christmas was a big -- you had the tree. When did you exchange gifts?

T. OLSON: We exchanged -- and she wouldn't do it any other way, it had to be Christmas morning. And then two days later, it had to be her birthday morning. And there had to be lots of gifts. And I -- but I mean that in a nice way, because it was -- it didn't matter what was in those packages, but it was an expression of affection and appreciation and enthusiasm.

KING: We'll have more with Ted Olson on remembering Barbara right after this.


PETER JENNINGS, ABC NEWS: And I said a short while ago that we'd only actually publicly identified one person, one individual who died today, and that was the wife of the solicitor general of the United States, Barbara Olson -- I've got her first name right, I think, Barbara Olson -- who was on the aircraft that attacked the Pentagon and was able to communicate with her husband, to whom we obviously extend our deepest -- just everybody who knows him must be thinking about his tragedy tonight.


BILL MAHER, HOST, "POLITICALLY INCORRECT," ABC: For those of you who were just joining us, I wanted to mention that that chair is empty all week, we announce this each night, for Barbara Olson, who was a favorite guest of ours and a friend. And she was supposed to be here last Tuesday night. She was on one of the planes. So we leave that open in tribute and a cherished memory for her.



KING: His wife was Barbara Olson, who appeared on this program so many times in the last four weeks, almost every night. Barbara Olson was on American Air flight 77 that left Dulles bound for Los Angeles and crashed into the Pentagon.

I spoke to Ted Olson today briefly, and it was just sad, so sad to speak to someone who had just lost his wife.




GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are here in the middle hour of our grief. So many have suffered so great a loss, and today we express our nation's sorrow. We come before God to pray for the missing and the dead and for those who loved them.

On Tuesday, our country was attacked with deliberate and massive cruelty. We have seen the images of fire and ashes and bent steel. Now come the names, the list of casualties we are only beginning to read. We will read all these names. We will linger over them and learn their stories, and many Americans will weep.


KING: On September 14, just three days after losing his wife, Barbara, in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Ted Olson sat down with us to try to make some sense out of what had happened. It was powerful and poignant. Watch.


KING: How did you and Barbara meet?

T. OLSON: I was at a think tank talking about something called RICO, Racketeering and Influence Corrupt Organizations Act. And Barbara was in the audience. I was up on a panel with a very dear friend of mine, Gordon Krovitz of "The Wall Street Journal" and Dow Jones Company. And Barbara asked Gordon to introduce the two of us. And...

KING: Ah, so she wanted to meet you.

T. OLSON: Well, I think -- that's the story she tells. Maybe Gordon did it on his own, but...

KING: Was it a very quick romance? Did you...

T. OLSON: Well, we didn't start dating for several weeks. We managed to see one another at a couple of Washington-type events, a conference of the Women Judges Association, we saw one another. She was a lawyer at another law firm. We met in October of 1989, and we started dating in about the spring of 1990. And of course it was an instant romance on my part, I believe hers too, well, I know hers too, because she...

KING: So you were together and committed for 11 years.

T. OLSON: Yes.

KING: I know you were at the memorial service this morning at the cathedral. What was that like for you?

T. OLSON: The service was extraordinarily moving. As you -- as your viewers must have seen, there were four former president plus the president there. I think just about everybody in the cabinet was there, and it was a beautifully moving -- and to see Reverend Graham speak and people spontaneously applauded him. He spoke from the heart, and so beautifully.

Denise Graves, who sang the two solos, is an unspeakably beautiful person with such an incredible voice. And "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," I think, breaks everybody up, but particular...

KING: Was it double...

T. OLSON: ... particularly under these circumstances.

KING: Was it a kind of double emotion for you?

T. OLSON: I don't know how I could get much more emotion. I mean, the -- in this kind of situation, you have -- every bit of emotion that you have is right at the surface. And it takes very little to bring it out. I don't suspect there were very many dry eyes in the cathedral, and mine certainly weren't. It was wonderful of the president and the people at the National Cathedral to hold that service on -- to support the many people who have been victimized by this awful...

KING: I...

T. OLSON: ... awful event.

KING: Now we're going to help our audience with some information. Let's go back to Tuesday morning. She was supposed to go Monday and stayed over?

T. OLSON: She was supposed to go Monday, and she -- my birthday was Tuesday. And she decided that she was not going to go Monday. I told Barbara, I said, "That's OK, we'll deal with my birthday later on." At my age, we're not paying too much attention to those.

But she insisted. She did not want to be gone on the morning of my birthday, and she wanted to be there when I woke up, which she was. I left for work early, early, very early in the morning before 6:00, and she left shortly after that to go to the airport.

KING: So it was another -- it was a beautiful day, right, gorgeous day in Washington.

T. OLSON: It was a -- it turned out to be a -- the weather, at any rate, was -- it was a beautiful day in Washington. It was the next day as well.

KING: The next time you hear from her is on the plane, right? What happened?

T. OLSON: Actually, actually I heard from her before that, before she boarded the plane. This plane was scheduled to leave, and I guess did leave, at 8:10 in the morning. She called me -- we always did this with one another, we always called one another a lot during the day, sometimes very briefly. But she called me around -- it must have been around 7:30 or 7:40, before she got on the plane. We just talked about one another and how anxious I was for her to come back and how anxious for -- she was to return.

But then I did not hear from her again until after she was in the air.

KING: And the plane is now -- she's flying. She calls you. You're at the Justice Department, right, solicitor general's office is at the Justice.

T. OLSON: Yes.

KING: Right. She calls you, and what?

T. OLSON: Well, I had heard a few moments before, a few minutes before, of the disaster occurring at the World Trade Center. There's a television center in the back of my office. I turned it on and watched with horror the film being -- replaying the airplanes crashing into the World Trade Center...

KING: Both crashing.

T. OLSON: Both. The second one had just occurred, I think, when I had turned it on, but they were -- where they were all -- well, it occurred in such a fashion that they had film of it, which, as this station, and I think I was watching CNN, and I was relieved, because at the moment that I heard there was hijacked planes, I was both terrified and fearful for everything that was going on, but I made a mental calculation, because it -- the thing -- the first thing that comes into your mind is that Barbara's plane, could that be one of those planes?

And I thought, oh, thank goodness, it can't be her plane. I'm sounding rather selfish here, but that just went through my mind...

KING: Understandable.

T. OLSON: ... because there wasn't enough time for that airplane to have gotten to New York.

And then one of the secretaries rushed in and said, "Barbara's on the phone." And I jumped for the phone, so glad that -- to hear Barbara's voice. And then she told me, "Our plane has been hijacked." Now, this was sometime -- must have been 9:15 or 9:30, I don't -- someone would have to reconstruct the time for me.

KING: So the television's on, you're seeing the buildings, both in disaster mode, and you're talking to your wife, who's just been hijacked.

T. OLSON: Yes.

KING: And she says?

T. OLSON: She says, "We've just been hijacked." I had two conversations, Larry, and I'm -- my memory is -- has -- tends to mix the two of them up because of the emotion of the events. We spoke for a minute or two, then the phone was cut off. Then we spoke -- then she got through again, and we spoke for another two or three or four minutes. She told me that the plane had hijacked, that she had been -- she told me that they did -- they did not know she was making this phone call.

She told me that she had been herded to the back of the plane. She mentioned that they had used knives and box-cutters to hijack the plane. She mentioned that the pilot had announced that the plane had been hijacked. I believe she said that. And she -- I had to tell her about the two airplanes that had hit the World Trade Center.

KING: Why?

T. OLSON: I just felt that I had to. I had to tell her. I'll look back at that and wonder that -- about that same question myself, but I had to tell her.

KING: What did she say when you told her?

T. OLSON: She -- she -- I think she must have been partially in, in, in shock from the fact that she was on a hijacked plane. She absorbed the information. We then both reassured one another, this plane was still up in the air, this plane was still flying. And this was going to come out OK. I told her it's going to come out OK. She told me it was going to come out OK. She said, "I love you... "

KING: Didn't she ask about the pilot...

T. OLSON: She asked -- she said...

KING: ... was the pilot in the back with her then? T. OLSON: I don't know. But she told me at one point in this conversation, "What shall I tell the pilot? What, what, what, what, what can I tell the pilot to do?"

KING: Implying that he must have been back there with her.

T. OLSON: Either the pilot, or possibly the co-pilot, or a part of the crew. That was the implication, but I didn't really think to ask that specific question.

KING: Did she sound terrified, anxious, nervous, scared?

T. OLSON: No, she didn't. She sounded very, very calm.

KING: Typical Barbara.

T. OLSON: In retrospect, enormously, remarkably, incredibly calm. But she was calculating. I mean, she was wondering, What can I do to help solve this problem? Barbara was like that. Barbara could not have not done something. And so...

KING: And what's going through you?

T. OLSON: Oh, my, my -- I am in -- I guess I'm in shock and I'm horrified, because I really -- well, I reassured her that I thought everything was going to be OK, I was pretty sure everything was not going to be OK. I by this time had made the calculation that these were suicide persons bent on destroying as much of America as they could, and...

KING: Did you hear other noises on the plane?

T. OLSON: No, I did not. At one point, when she asked me what to say to the pilot, I asked her if she had any sense for where she was. I had after the first conversation called our command center at the Department of Justice to alert them to the fact that there was another hijacked plane and that my wife was on it and that she was capable of communicating, even though this first phone call had been cut off.

So I wanted to find out where the plane was. She said the plane had been hijacked shortly after takeoff, and they had been circling around, I think the words that she used. She reported to me that she could see houses. I asked her which direction the plane was going. She paused. There was a pause there. I think she must have asked someone else. And she said, "I think it's going northeast."

KING: Which would have been toward the Pentagon, right?


T. OLSON: Dulles is west of the Pentagon.

KING: Right, yes.

T. OLSON: And so east of the -- of Dulles is the Pentagon, and depending -- this plane had been in the air for, I think, over an hour. So I don't know where she was when she called. But that couldn't...

KING: So this didn't do any direct flight right to the Pentagon?

T. OLSON: No. No, her plane took off at 8:10, and the -- its impact with the Pentagon must have been around 9:30 or so. I mean, you'll probably be able to reconstruct that or have that information. As to the...

KING: Was -- how does the second -- how does the second conversation end?

T. OLSON: We are -- we, we segued back and forth between expressions of feeling for one another, and this effort to exchange information. And then the phone went dead. I don't know whether it just got cut off again, because the signals from cell phones coming from airplanes aren't -- don't work that well, or whether that was the impact with the Pentagon. It was not -- I stayed glued to my television. I did call the command center again. Someone came down, so I could impart this information, and also to be there in case she called again.

But it was very shortly thereafter that news reports on the television indicated that there had been an explosion of some sort at the Pentagon...

KING: Did you immediately know then that's what it was?

T. OLSON: I did. I mean, I didn't want to...

KING: But you did.

T. OLSON: ... I did, and I didn't want to, and I -- and -- but I knew. It was -- the -- but it was a long time before what had happened at the Pentagon, or it seemed like a long time, before it was identified as an airplane. And then the first report that I heard was that it was a commuter plane, and then I heard it was an American Airlines plane.

I called some people, I guess maybe just because I had to share the dread that was living with me. I called my mother and I called my son. I said I didn't think -- I thought that -- I was hoping that it wasn't true, but I was very worried. I did not want them to see something on television and hear her name.



REV. BILLY GRAHAM: This has been a terrible week with many tears, but also it's been a week of great faith. Churches all across the country have called prayer meetings. And today is a day that they're celebrating not only in this country but in many parts of the world. My prayer today is that we will feel the loving arms of God wrapped around us and will know in our hearts that He will never forsake us as we trust in Him.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many poems can be written about love, but this surpasses them all. We can only imagine what went through Ted's mind as his wife talked with him, especially since he was aware of the attacks in New York. Ted might tell us what he thought, and he did so on the TV interviews. But there's no way he could convey to us what he felt and what anguish and anxiety was piercing his heart.

His wife was about to die, and there was absolutely nothing he could do. He was absolutely powerless. He was solicitor general of the United States, and he could do nothing for the woman he loved.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Barbara and Ted are as one in our lives, two hearts beating as one. They are inseparable. Even those final minutes of crisis and finality could not separate them, nor will death do so, for Barbara's spirit survives in each of us, just as the spirit of our great country lives on.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yet these many accomplishments were merely the outward manifestations of an extraordinary spirit and soul. To those of us who knew Barbara Olson well, that inner essence was one of vitality, courage, loyalty to friends and principles, and a talent, or rather a genius, for friendship.


KING: In the immediate aftermath of Barbara Olson's death, Ted Olson became a point man for the administration's effort to pass sweeping antiterrorism legislation. He talked about that and a lot more when he joined us on October 24.


KING: Antiterrorism legislation passed the House today, 357 to 66. There was a compromise to it. You fought hard for this bill. I have no memory of a solicitor general getting involved in promoting legislation.

T. OLSON: Well, it has happened before, but it's been a long time. I think these are special circumstances. I felt that it was necessary for me and for Barbara and for the other victims on September 11 that I say what I could, because I think people identified with Barbara and I am a part of the administration.

And I have some expertise on this kind of legislation and the issues that are involved, the civil libertarian issues and so forth. These are very modest steps. They aren't the end of the line. These are things that have to be done to give us -- to plus up loopholes that exist in our federal legislation so that terrorists can't get away with the things that they did on September 11. We owe it. We -- every single one of us in this country owe it to the people who gave their lives on September 11 to do everything we possibly can, first against the people who did it and to prevent this from ever happening again.

KING: As a person sworn to uphold the constitution, does anything in this give you any pause as to its civil libertarian aspect?

T. OLSON: No, Larry. In fact, I spent a lot of time looking at this. This legislation, most of which has already been tested in courts with respect to drug dealers and organized crime figures, does not surrender any liberties that allows us to do the things that we ought to be able to do, and we should be able to do, had our legislation kept track with modern technology.

So I'm comfortable that this is not an invasion of our civil liberties. I want to tell the American people that if it was, I would be as concerned about it as other people would be. It is not. It is something that is necessary for us to prevent terrorists that take advantage of the liberties that we give our citizens.

KING: In other words, tough times?

T. OLSON: It's tough times, but it's also a very important, Larry, for us to understand that we've been threatened before. We are a strong country. We are a strong people. We believe in ourselves. We believe in our leadership. And we must live our lives as normally as we possibly can. We must be careful, but we must not give in to the fact that there have been threats to us. We cannot give in to the fear that these people hope to induce in us. We must enjoy our lives. We must live our lives as close to as we can to a normal way. And I believe in that.


T. OLSON: Three long months ago, our nation and our people were savagely attacked. Thousands of our citizens were murdered. Many suffered painful and disfiguring injuries. And tens of thousands lost spouses, children, parents, other family members, neighbors, co- workers, and friends.



KING: The Solicitor General of the United States Ted Olson lost his wife on American Airlines 77. She was a frequent guest on this show. What do you think of that? Did you know Barbara. LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think it's very, very sad. I didn't really know Barbara. I know him, of course. I've met him, but I didn't really know her. She and I corresponded a couple of times, but that's sad.

KING: He's held up very well.

BUSH: He has, I think, I understand that he has.


KING: Welcome back. More now of our December 17 interview with Ted Olson. The holiday season can be very, very hard for those who have lost loved ones. But sometimes, sharing memories can help.


KING: Did Barbara Olson make New Year's resolutions?

T. OLSON: No, I don't think -- if she did, we never talked about it very much. We approached New Year's eve as a nice time to be together, but not a big party time not...

KING: You didn't go through all the family?

T. OLSON: No, no, we basically, we -- that's when amateurs party on New Year's Eve. We partied every single other day of our life. And what we liked to do on New Year's Eve, we had some very close friends over. And we would eat some very good food and drink some very good wine.

Our favorite couple to have over is Bob and Mary Ellen Bork, Judge Bork. We treasured those times together. This year, we were going to go to California with the Borks, but we made less of a party out of New Year's Eve than other people do, mainly because we spent so much time enjoying ourselves at other times.

KING: Let's talk about that. You were very -- this was your third marriage, right?

T. OLSON: Yes.

KING: Barbara's second?

T. OLSON: Yes.

KING: You were a very romantic couple, right? I mean, you were affectionate with each other. Having dined at your house, I know that to be true. You liked each other, in addition to loving each other?

T. OLSON: Yes, that's absolutely true. I think we both felt, I certainly did, that this was the best thing that ever happened to me. We were extremely close. We liked to go out to dinner together. We liked to be at home together. We liked to talk to one another. We liked to do everything together. And we weren't bashful about the fact that we were very much in love. And we didn't express it in embarrassing ways, but I think everybody knew how much I loved and respected her, and the feelings that we had for one another.

KING: How about all the lives she touched?

T. OLSON: Well, she touched lives in so many ways. It was really unbelievable. I think I've told people, and people that have watched your program, and have read her books, know that she was a ballet dancer. She was a Hollywood producer. She was -- she touched people at the Jewish Law School that she went to, after the Catholic college that she went to. She was very successful prosecutor, federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C. And she was the best dressed prosecutor, I think, that ever seen bright colors, big...

KING: L.A. dressed in Washington, right?

T. OLSON: She liked colors. It was not just L.A>, it was Barbara. She loved people. She loved the people that she worked with. She was a congressional investigator. And she was a wrote two books in her life. And both were New York Times best-selling books.

KING: And she liked being known, didn't she?

T. OLSON: Yes, she loved being known. She liked being recognized. I think some of us -- I don't known how you feel about that, but some of us feel maybe we'd like to be a little bit more anonymous from time to time. Barbara would sweep into a room and she captivated people, but she was thrilled that people knew who she was. And again in a very nice way. It wasn't that she craved attention so much, as that she liked to be a participant and she liked people to know that she was.

KING: What are you hearing from people?

T. OLSON: Oh, I'm hearing such wonderful things about Barbara. I'm hearing such wonderful stories about Barbara. Of course, I knew a lot of stories, but there's a lot of stories out there that I didn't know. So many of your viewers have written me. They're such sweet people that they knew Barbara because of watching LARRY KING LIVE. And they liked her smile, they liked the fact that she could participate in debate and have fun. You remember this, she had an opinion on every subject, you said that once.

KING: Every subject known to man.

T. OLSON: Yes, and she was proud of the fact that she had opinions. And she was proud of the fact that she expressed them. And everyone that she ever appeared on, that I've talked to, every person who appeared opposite her, opposite points of view, liked Barbara and appreciated Barbara because she enjoyed the -- the debate and the fun of it. And she liked the people that she was debating.

KING: But even people who didn't agree with her felt an attachment to her? T. OLSON: I can't tell you how many of your viewers have said I didn't agree with a single opinion, but I liked to watch her. And the people that debated with her on your program, and on other programs liked her.

KING: Yes.

T. OLSON: Maybe that's not true for everybody, but...

KING: But she had a quality. Maybe not taking herself too seriously. In other words, she could argue with someone and then you go to a commercial break. Then she'd talk about a completely different subject. Having dinner together or certainly her ability to laugh at herself as well. What would surprise people about Barbara?

T. OLSON: I don't know what would surprise people about Barbara.

KING: Was she what you saw what you got? In other words if people watching now -- what would there be anything about Barbara that they wouldn't know?

T. OLSON: Well, there's lots of things, because she was there was a mystery or a surprise every day because she was extremely spontaneous. She was a great cook. She was great dancer. She was a designer. She could design our home. You've seen our home. It's a beautiful home.

KING: Yes, that's new.

T. OLSON: She did this. She was a prosecutor. She was a writer. Everything that she did she approached with complete zest and zeal and appreciation for the love of living.

KING: Don't you think she was on her way to having her own show?

T. OLSON: I don't know.

KING: Yes, you would think?

T. OLSON: I would think that she was a natural for that. And I think that that could obviously be the case, because people liked to see her. People liked -- you've heard from people and I've heard from people. They liked her when she was on your show. And they liked her when she was on other shows because they liked to be -- they liked to have her in their living room.

Young girls, older women saw her as a role model. They saw her as someone who stood for the proposition that you can be whatever you want you to be, if you can go for it. Try. You can't get anywhere as you know, can't get anywhere unless you do it.


KING: Some more moments with Ted Olson on this tribute to Barbara right after this.


BARBARA OLSON, WIFE OF TED OLSON: If you're a prosecutor, and you're charged with investigating crimes, no matter what the public says, rightfully or wrongfully, you go forward based upon the evidence.

I think what is happening right now are people deciding what kind country we have. What kind of more fiber we have in this country, and do we really mind that the President of the United States has less moral standards than we demand of our own family members?

Hillary Clinton has captured people's attention. I mean, the people want to know who she really, and what she's really going to do.

Can you imagine if someone was just missing in your neighborhood. You would be concerned and want to help, much less someone that you actually had a relationship with and that you were close to.




DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tomorrow at this conference, our solicitor general will inaugurate an annual lecture named for his wife. Barbara Olson will always be remembered for her sharp mind, for her kindness, for her cheerful presence. It's hard think of Barbara and not see her smiling. And we miss her. And we will always remember the grace and the courage of Ted Olson from that day to this.



KING: We're back with Ted Olson. There are a lot of things Washington is famous for. Style ain't one of them. This is not -- I mean, we're not France or L.A. or New York in Washington, but she went against that, didn't she? I mean she dressed to the nines. That was Barbara?

T. OLSON: She liked beautiful, colorful clothes. She liked these four inch, I guess four-inch heels. People could wonder how she could wear these heels all day long. But yes, it was style, and verve, and class.

When she would walk into a courtroom as a prosecutor, the jurors and defendants wouldn't necessarily always be in the right same side as Barbara, but they wound up loving her because she would enter a room and would flip her hair. And she was yes, her -- what she wore and her smile and her hair, and everything was a statement about Barbara. It was a happy statement, but it was a statement that I'm here, I'm alive, I'm enjoying the bright colorful things.

Yes, she wore beautiful clothes. And she looked so great in clothes. She appreciated it. And it was a part of her. All of these things were a part of Barbara, this explosion into the moment, you know.

And she loved being on your show. She just -- whatever the subject was, she want to be on your show, because she liked being here. You've got a wonderful show. She was thrilled. Your producers -- she loved your producers. I have to say that. And what do you here is very spontaneous. It's not very canned. I mean, you can -- and you like lots of views. And you like your viewers to see lots of opinions. And she just loved that.

KING: How do you think she'd like to be remembered?

T. OLSON: I think that she would be very happy to be remembered as someone who lived the notion that you can be whatever you want to be. When I like to talk about the fact that when Barbara went to Hollywood, she just went there to raise money go to law school. She didn't know anything about it. She managed to get a job.

And the first person who hired her, Stacy Keach, I talked to. He's great and great producer, and so forth. And he confronted her six months later and said, "You didn't you know anything about this business when you came to work for me, did you?" And she said, "Well, I didn't, but I know I'm a fast learner."

And she was a fast learner. She, I think, would like to be remembered as standing for the idea that you should participate, that you should love what you're doing, you should allow yourself to have no limits, that you should try to reach the sky. And she did in so many ways.

KING: She was a feminist without being one, right?

T. OLSON: She was living, breathing example of what she felt about feminism, which is don't complain, do it. Get out there and do it. You can do it. And that's why I've gotten so many letters from young women, middle-aged women, older women saying Barbara taught us that we can do anything that we want to do. We just have to believe in ourselves.

And Barbara believed in herself. And she felt -- I think she would like to be remembered as someone who set the standard that you can do these things if you want to do these things. Try it. Don't be afraid to try.

KING: And keeping her memory alive, are you enjoying the fact that all these magazines are referring to her when they talk about losses this year, and articles about her everywhere, best-selling book -- posthumously best-selling.

T. OLSON: Well, I'm -- I think what I enjoy -- I have mixed feelings about all of those things, as I think anybody would. What I like is that there are people all over this country that are buying her book. I think that it's a good book and they like the book, but I think what's really happening is people saying, "I want to touch her. I want to remember those people that died on September 11. And she's the one I remembered because she's the picture I saw on television first."

So many people have said that's what hit me, I saw Barbara Olson there. So they're reaching out. Not just to Barbara. They're identifying with Barbara. They're reaching out to Barbara and they're reach out to the other thousands of victims on September 11 by saying what else -- how else can I reach through? I'm going to buy Barbara's book. She died that day. And I think that's what a lot of people out there are doing. I'm very touched by that and I know she would be.

KING: Ted, you flew American Airlines to go to Chicago and then go to Green Bay and then on to upper part of Wisconsin for the special burial and the like. Was that hard to get on the American Airline plane?

T. OLSON: Well, it wasn't easy, but again, that's part of the same thing. I mean, we go -- airplanes are safe. And airplanes fly. And these, you know, you've got to get over these things.

All of these things, going back to work, going home, going to places where Barbara and I had very special times together, you have to do that. Barbara had a very passionate belief in life. And so the choice is you continue to believe the things that both of us believed in and live out your life and enjoy it and participate at the fullest extent that you possibly can or go off in corner someplace and wither up. And I'm not going to go off in a corner and wither up. And Barbara wouldn't have either. So that means flying airplanes, yes.

KING: So it wasn't queasy or anything to?

T. OLSON: No, that was okay.

KING: I don't imagine you would fly the morning plane to Los Angeles?

T. OLSON: Yes, I would. I would.

KING: You would?

T. OLSON: Yes.

KING: The one that leaves at 8:15, the one that you and I took?

T. OLSON: Yes.

KING: The one that she took?

T. OLSON: The one that you and I took the day of the -- day after the election and 2000.

KING: When they called you?

T. OLSON: Yes, I do believe that you have to do this. You can't you can't allow that sort of thing to swallow you up.

KING: Thank you, Ted. T. OLSON: Thank you.


KING: The Solicitor General of the United States Ted Olson. Barbara Olson lives on in our hearts. She was some lady and a wonderful friend to his show. When we return, a moving rendition of a holiday classic, performed by Manheim Steamroller.


NANCY GRACE, COURT TV ANCHOR: We all became a little family over the airwaves. And how much fun and how angry we all got together over every legal issue?

MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It's been three years, I guess, since she and I started that kind of frick and frack of the right and left. And I developed a real affection for her, as you know.

KING: And she for you.

CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FORMER PROSECUTOR: You know, I knew mostly about her from our TV appearances. She was an accomplished ballet dancer. And I learned that at her funeral. She loved country music and I learned that at her funeral. And she had a yellow convertible as a kid, and I learned it at her funeral. And I felt such sadness, if my missed opportunity, which can only be a billion fold for her family and close friends.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a spectacular love story. She is princess. He, her prince.



KING: Thanks for watching this special LARRY KING LIVE, tribute to Barbara Olson. Our thoughts and prayers are with her husband Ted and with the families and friends of all those who lost their lives on September 11.

On this Christmas night, we leave you with an instrumental version of "Silent Night," performed by Manheim Steamroller. It's from the boxed set "Manheim Steamroller's Christmas Collection."

Thanks for watching. Best holiday wishes from us to you. See you tomorrow.