Five Best Cheri Oteri Performances of Barbara Walters

The former ‘SNL’ cast member reflected on the subject of one of her best-known impressions.

Michael Buckner/WireImage

Videos by Rare

Videos by Rare

Barbara Walters spent most of her years as a journalist trying to show mainstream America what it’s like off-camera to living the life of a celebrity. In the process, Walters became a celebrity herself.

It’s not easy to summarize Walters, who was a fierce advocate for raising the profile of women in newsrooms, on TV shows, and in positions of influence.

Cheri Oteri on Sunday posted a message paying tribute to Barbara Walters, one of the former Saturday Night Live cast member’s most celebrated celebrity impressions.

“My heart is so heavy, I cannot say in words what this woman meant to me and what an honor and privilege it was to step into her shoes that no one could or will ever fill,” Oteri wrote on Instagram. “I will somehow try and find words to pay tribute to her magnificent legacy tonight.”

So we will, although the challenge is mighty steep.

Remembering Barbara Walters

Barbara Walters, a pioneering TV journalist who was one of the most prominent figures in broadcasting in the 20th century, died Friday at age 93. 

“She lived her life with no regrets,” her family said in a statement. She was a trailblazer not only for female journalists but for all women.”

The prominent figure began her national broadcaster back in 1961 as a reporter, panel member, and writer for NBC News Today before she went on to be promoted to co-host in 1974. In 1976, she joined ABC News as the first female anchor of an evening news program.

There she went on to launch The Barbara Walters Special and her annual 10 Most Fascinating People series. She made her mark by conducting several of the biggest interviews including with icons such as Mike Tyson, Ricky Martin, Monica Lewinsky, Rob Kardashian, and more.

On Instagram, Opray Winfrey posted a photo of her with Barbara Walters on Instagram.

“Without Barbara Walters there wouldn’t have been me — nor any other woman you see on evening, morning, and daily news,” Winfrey said.

Cheri Oteri’s Barbara Walters Impersonation

Cheri Oteri was part of the SNL cast from 1995 to 2000. Over the years, she accumulated numerous impersonation bits in which she tried to resemble Barbara Walters.

Oteri actually came back to in late 2019 to reprise her impersonation of Walters, who fell out of the public eye starting in 2016.

Here are our favorite clips of Cheri Oteri doing her Barbara Waters impression:

1. “SNL Alum Revives Barbara Walters Character, Anderson Cooper Loses It

In her last, or at least most recent, prominent clip featuring her impression of Walters, Oteri crashed Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen’s New Year’s Eve coverage with her over-the-top Barbara Walters impression. Walters used to be a regular at the annual event.

“What an honor it is for you to have me on your New Year’s Eve special,” Oteri said sarcastically, slipping easily into her old glove.

Coming just a couple of days after Walters’ death, Oteri struck the right chord with her combination of reverence and irreverence.

2. “The View: Sex Scandals – Saturday Night Live

Co-starring Molly Shannon, this SNL sketch from September 1998 heaps smarmy trash-talking from the “characters” of The View. Perhaps a bit mean-spirited, the bit packs in enough laughs to take center stage.

3. “Walters-Lewinsky Cold Opening – Saturday Night Live

This sketch, which aired in March 1999, sums up the strength of late-night comedy. When the joke lands just right and happens in the middle of a shocking scandal, SNL is a weekly vehicle that can address how to deal with a problem: Laugh at it.

If spring 1999 rings a bell, Oteri played the sketch while interest in the Clinton impeachment reached a new peak. Oteri took on the difficult challenge of finding the right tone for her character.

4. “The View: Relief From Debbie – Saturday Night Live

This segment aired in early January 1999, quickly making the case that the year was the winning-est of Oteri’s career.

5. Cheri Oteri SNL Audition

Cheri Oteri hints at many of her future hit segments on this training video for SNL from 1995. She proves to be both a master of disguise and someone who’s almost always first to poke fun at herself. Time was on her side too, as Oteri didn’t quickly jump into various characters at a moment’s notice.

READ MORE: “Oprah Winfrey Pays Tribute to Late Barbara Walters: ‘Grateful to Know Her’

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