On New Year’s Eve, my daughter yelled down the stairs to me. “Betty White died.” Major bummer. Betty White would have been 100 tomorrow. If you read what I wrote when she turned 90, you know I’ve thought she’d been very cool for a long time.
From the Boston Globe: “White began her television career as $50-a-week sidekick to a local Los Angeles TV personality [Al Jarvis] in 1949… ‘I did that show 5½ hours a day, six days a week, for 4½ years… Jarvis was replaced by actor Eddie Albert, and when he went to Europe for the film ‘Roman Holiday,’ she headed the show.”
She starred and more remarkably produced the sitcom Life with Elizabeth in 1952, based on a sketch she had done with Jarvis.
From All That’s Interesting: “It was a minor coup when Betty White got her own [variety] show in 1954 with full creative control. Not one to waste an opportunity, White immediately set about hiring [black tap dancer Arthur Duncan to perform] on her show…
“But even in California, Duncan’s regular presence on the show drew criticism. And it only escalated after NBC rolled out the show nationally, with Southern viewers threatening to boycott the network if White didn’t remove Duncan from the lineup. Although NBC eventually canceled White’s show,” Duncan became a star on The Lawrence Welk Show from 1964 to 1982.
She met her great love, Allen Ludden, in 1961 when she was a contestant on Password, the game show he hosted. she turned down his proposals for a year, in part because of her two, brief failed marriages. They were married from 1963 until he died from stomach cancer in 1981.
Betty was a GREAT game show contestant. She was a regular panelist on Match Game, Tattletales, To Tell the Truth, The Hollywood Squares, and The $25,000 Pyramid. No wonder she had been dubbed “the first lady of game shows.” As recently as 2008, she was a stellar contestant on an iteration of Password. She snagged a Daytime Emmy for hosting the game show Just Men! in 1983, the first woman to do so.
She had over 300 credits as herself, from hosting holiday parades to appearing on talk shows. As host of Saturday Night Live in 2010, she won her most recent Emmy.
Betty has also won Emmys for Mary Tyler Moore Show twice, Golden Girls, and for a guest appearance on The John Larroquette Show (1993). She has over 100 acting credits, from soap operas to My Name Is Earl.
People magazine has a piece about her secrets for long life. CNN has array of photos throughout her career. There’s still scheduled a special movie event called “Betty White: 100 Years Young — A Birthday Celebration” on the date, January 17. It was to cover her lengthy career and her animal advocacy.
Of course, after she died, there were tons of tribute pieces. Here are some I found particularly interesting.
Hollywood Reporter: She was as important as she was beloved
Parade: Quotes. You REALLY should read the first one, at least
Variety: Funniest Moments, including feuding With Ryan Reynolds
Mark Evanier: “Actors… we’re all like feral cats.”