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Kate McKinnon subtly honors Ruth Bader Ginsburg during 'SNL' premiere

Ginsburg had said that McKinnon's take was "not one bit" like her, but she still enjoyed the impression.
Kate McKinnon as Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Kate McKinnon as Ruth Bader Ginsburg during the "Courtroom Rap" sketch on Nov. 17, 2018.Steve Molina Contreras / NBCUniversal via Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Kate McKinnon, who famously portrayed a spunky and sassy Ruth Bader Ginsburg on "Saturday Night Live," took a moment during last night's premiere of the show's 46th season to honor the late justice.

After the "Weekend Update," the camera panned to McKinnon, dressed as RGB and seated in the audience. In a gesture of reverence, McKinnon placed her hand on her heart and bowed her head to acknowledge last month's death of the woman she'd played since 2015.

"Perfect tribute. I actually started to cry," one commenter on Twitter responded to the clip.

"I was expecting her to speak on Weekend Update, but this simple gesture was much more powerful," wrote another.

"I will miss the Ginsburns," posted another fan, referring to the name McKinnon gave to the sharp one-liners she delivered in character.

The Supreme Court justice, feminist hero and pop-culture icon died on Sept. 18 at age 87 due to complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer.

During a commercial break, "SNL" also featured McKinnon's Ginsburg costume, including her robe, glasses and signature lace jabot. The words "Rest in Power" completed the tribute.

Ginsburg was aware of McKinnon's impersonation and even watched clips of it. In the documentary about her life, "RBG," she called McKinnon "marvelously funny," if "not one bit" like her. While doing press for the movie, Ginsburg said, "I liked the actress who portrayed me."

Following the justice's death, McKinnon released statement, calling Ginsburg a "real-life superhero."

“For so many of us, Justice Ginsburg was a real-life superhero: a beacon of hope, a warrior for justice, a robed crusader who saved the day time and again," McKinnon said in a statement to TODAY. "Playing her on 'SNL' was a profound joy because I could always feel the overwhelming love and gratitude that the audience had for her. It was one of the great honors of my life to meet Justice Ginsburg, to shake her hand, and to thank her for her lifetime of service to this country.”

The tribute to RBG was part of the season 46 premiere of "Saturday Night Live," hosted by Chris Rock with musical guest Megan Thee Stallion. Other highlights of the show included Jim Carrey portraying Joe Biden in a recreation of the presidential debate and jokes about the president testing positive for COVID-19.