Cheri Oteri, who impersonated Barbara Walters during her five-year run on Saturday Night Live, paid tribute to the pioneering journalist after Walters died at the age of 93.
Appearing on CNN’s New Year’s Eve Live countdown special with cohosts Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper, the comedian revealed her original plans to come out with a new Walters bit.
Oteri then recalled SNL asking her to portray Walters. “I was like, ‘Oh my God! This is such a big responsibility,'” she said. “I didn’t want to do it, but then I was like, ‘Wait a second. That would be such an honor.’ So I studied her like I’d never studied somebody before.”
“Then to have her blessing and be on The View, I was just in awe,” Oteri added of the time she appeared next to the real Walters on the daytime talk show.
Walters died Dec. 30 at her home in New York City.
Gilda Radner had previously impersonated the broadcast journalism legend on SNL in ongoing “Baba Wawa” sketches, which Walters admitted to initially hating in an interview with the Television Academy Foundation. It was only when her daughter, Jacqueline Dena Guber, told her to “lighten up” about it that she did.
Walters later appeared on SNL’s “Weekend Update” in 2014 and spoofed herself in celebration of her retirement from the industry she helped shape. “This is my real voice,” she said, before shifting into a fake accent to say, “Hello, I’m Baba Wawa.”