BY: Frazier Moore
NEW YORK – Barbara Walters is feeling wonderful after heart surgery in May — and has practically no scar, she added proudly Tuesday as she returned to active duty on ‘The View‘ after taking the summer off for recovery.
“I would like to say, once and for all, to all the people who say, ‘How are you?’: I’m FINE!” she told viewers as the audience gave her a rousing welcome.
Joining the welcome party was David Letterman in his first visit. The ‘Late Show‘ host had open-heart surgery a decade ago, and he and Walters spent much of his appearance gratefully comparing notes.
“It’s plumbing, really. You’re talking about pipes, valves and pumps,” said Letterman, who underwent an emergency quintuple bypass in January 2000. When the surgeons go to work, he marveled, “amazing things are accomplished.”
“It’s more than a miracle,” he said.
Letterman recalled when he got the post-surgery good news from the doctor.
“He puts his hand on my shoulder and he said, ‘Everything went great.’ And that was the best part of the whole thing — that and, later, the sponge bath,” he cracked.
In mock oneupmanship in his exchange with Walters, Letterman declared: “I had coronary artery disease. You just blew out a valve.”
To which Walters retorted: “I have a pig valve. YOU don’t have a pig valve!”
“I have other pig parts on me, though,” Letterman joked ruefully, in an apparent reference to a scandal a year ago involving revelations about his affairs with co-workers.
Then, when talk turned to his flop as host of the Oscars in 1995, Letterman pretended to have chest pains. Asked whether he would ever host the Oscarcast again, he said no.
“I had my shot, I screwed it up — and almost put an end to the Academy Awards,” he joked. “They were nice enough to ask me to do it again, and I said, ‘What, are you drinking?!'”
Letterman redeclared support for Conan O’Brien, the short-lived ‘Tonight Show‘ host who was unseated by Jay Leno, his predecessor, when Leno reclaimed the job during last season’s late-night turmoil at NBC.
“It was fun to see Jay squirm,” said Letterman, hinting that Leno’s nice-guy image doesn’t tell the whole story. “We got to see a little bit of the real Jay Leno in action here.”
Airing weekdays at 11 a.m. Eastern, ‘The View’ is starting its 14th season. Other hosts are Joy Behar, Whoopi Goldberg, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Sherri Shepherd.
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