1:00 PM EST, February 3, 2011
An uncharacteristically serious David Letterman opens up to Barbara Walters about his open heart surgery in a TV special , A Matter of Life and Death, airing Friday on ABC.
Walters said to Letterman, "You said the surgery was barbaric."
"Well, it it barbaric. Before they wheeled me off I said, 'I just don't want to hear the bone saw.' "
The legendary 81-year-old newswoman is uniquely qualified for this show about celebrities who've undergone heart surgery, as she had a faulty heart valve replaced last year.
Regis and Joy Philbin spoke to Walters about the triple-bypass Regis underwent in 2007. Joy said, "Regis looked so fragile, and I thought, he'll never be the same again."
He'll never forget what his friend Letterman said the night before the operation.
Regis said, "David Letterman comes on and he says, 'You know, Regis, at 6 O'Clock this morning he's going to report the New York hospital. They're going to take his clothes off and bust him open like a lobster!' Who can sleep after that?"
You'll recall that when Letterman returned to Late Night after his quintuple bypass in 2000, he fought back tears as he honored the medical team that kept him alive, saying, "These men and women here saved my life."
With Walters, he couldn't resist being funny when she asked, "Where did your new arteries come from?"
"Ace Hardware," joked Letterman.
Robin Williams told Walters about his aortic valve replacement in 2009. He too couldn't resist being funny saying, "As time goes on you go, I'm okay, thank you. How are you? A little flatulent. Didn't need that news" joked Williams.
On a serious note, Walters pointed out on The View that everybody on this heart special has one thing in common, saying, "If this was 25 years ago, all these people would be dead, including me."