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Baba Wawa remembered: Four memorable Barbara Walters moments

May 13, 2013 at 4:00 PM ET

It's hard to imagine the interview game without Barbara Walters as a major player. Walters, 83, confirmed Monday that she'll be retiring from TV appearances in 2014.

No more Walters? She's been on television for a half-century, longer than many of her current co-workers have even been alive, and she's given us plenty of memorable moments along the way. Here's a look at four of them.

Baba Wawa
Walters was famously imitated on "Saturday Night Live" by the comedy legend Gilda Radner back in the 1970s. Walters confessed she didn't like the impersonation at first. "I don't talk that way, and I do pronounce my Rs," Walters recalled thinking, though she said she loved Radner anyway. Walters was parodied by others of course -- including Rachel Dratch on "30 Rock" -- but Baba Wawa became legend.

Gilda Radner and Barbara Walters discuss "Baba Wawa."

What kind of tree are you?
It's perhaps the most famous goofy reporter question, but it wasn't all Walters' idea. She was interviewing Katharine Hepburn in 1981 and Hepburn compared herself to a tree, so Walters went there: "What kind of tree are you?" she asked the legendary actress, hastening to add, "If you think you're a tree." (Hepburn chose an oak, over a Dutch Elm disease-stricken elm.) She was never allowed to live down that question, with even Johnny Carson teasing her about it, and proclaiming that he would be a tumbleweed.

Barbara Walters recalls the infamous "tree" question.

Monica Lewinsky: 'Sometimes I hate his guts'
Walters has interviewed world leaders and movie stars, but she herself says her most-watched interview came in March of 1999, when she sat down with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, whose affair with Bill Clinton while he was president became a worldwide scandal. "Sometimes I have warm feelings (for Clinton), sometimes I'm proud of him still, and sometimes I hate his guts," Lewinsky told Walters. In an odd sidenote to the interview, the lipstick Lewinsky wore -- Club Monaco's Glaze, no longer made -- became a huge bestseller after the interview was seen nationally.

Barbara Walters interviewed Monica Lewinsky in 1999 in what was Walters' most-watched interview ever.


              Vladimir Putin: Did you ever order anyone killed?

She may inquire about trees and romantic relationships, but Walters isn't shy about playing hardball with world leaders. The journalist met with Russian president Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin in 2001 and called him "remarkably open." She asked him about how he felt when he saw news of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks (angry, and guilty for not being able to prevent them). And then she dropped a bombshell. "I'm going to ask you a terrible question," she warned. "Did you ever order anyone killed?" Putin answered right away: "Nyet."


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