Betty White would have been 100

six Emmys

Betty White

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.

Always game

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.”

Betty White is turning 90

In her opening SNL monologue, Betty White thanked Facebook and joked that she ‘didn’t know what Facebook was, and now that I do know what it is, I have to say, it sounds like a huge waste of time.’


I think it’s most unfortunate that actress Betty White has seemed to have become suddenly cool in the last couple of years. I’ve long thought she always was.

After her radio career, she was one of the first women nominated for an Emmy award back in 1951, and she was a pioneer as a performer/producer of the TV show Life With Elizabeth in 1952-1955. Her massive number of credits included sitcoms, variety shows, TV host of a couple parades for decades, and a number of game shows, including Password, where she met her husband, the host Allen Ludden, who died in 1981. She won a daytime Emmy as host of her own game show, Just Men! in 1987.

She’s best known for two TV roles. The first was as the sweet-seeming barracuda “Happy Homemaker” Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, for which she was nominated thrice as Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, winning twice. The other was Golden Girls, where she played the “terminally naive” Rose Nylund, for which she was nominated seven times as Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series, winning once.

She’s worked regularly since then, on talk shows, game shows (including the fifth iteration of Password, hosted by Regis Philbin, where she was sharp as ever), and as a recurring character, an addled homicidal woman on Boston Legal.

From Wikipedia: “White appeared alongside Abe Vigoda in an advertisement for Snickers during the 2010 Super Bowl XLIV. The ad won the top spot on the USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter… A grassroots campaign on Facebook called ‘Betty White to Host SNL (Please)’ began in January 2010. The group was approaching 500,000 members when NBC confirmed on March 11, 2010 that White would in fact host Saturday Night Live on May 8. The appearance made her, at age 88, the oldest person to host the show… In her opening monologue, White thanked Facebook and joked that she ‘didn’t know what Facebook was, and now that I do know what it is, I have to say, it sounds like a huge waste of time.’ The appearance earned her a 2010 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress In A Comedy Series, her seventh Emmy win overall.”

And now she’s in another series, Hot in Cleveland, where she’ll appear opposite one-time TV flame, Ed Asner, next season. Meanwhile, tonight there will be a 90th Birthday Extravaganza tonight on NBC-TV.

She’s also been a big animal rights advocate, admitting on more than one occasion, including in her 2011 book If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won’t), which I read, that she prefers the company of animals to people. She was thrilled to become an honorary forest ranger in November 2010.

I’ve been a big fan of Betty White as long as I can remember. She’ll be 90 tomorrow, and I wish her well.

Laborious Day

Just got my performance review this week, which went all right. I purloined a good portion of my self-evaluation from this blog. Seriously. It made it so much easier to write since I tend to dread it.

I saw this article 10 Things You Wish You Could Tell Your Boss, but are afraid to, lest you get fired. And in this economy, that’s a legitimate fear. At the end of the article, the author asked readers to throw in other pieces of advice.

For me, it is not to tell me I’m “empowered” to do something for which I have been given no resources whatsoever. Yes, there’s a particular job that I have in mind.

Also, to amplify one of the choices given, Don’t take credit for my work. You MAY say, “We designed this,” if I designed it, as we are part of a team. However, you may NOT say, “I designed this.” You will really tick me off if you do. This actually happened in my current job, with a previous boss. Her I did not like, but she’s long gone.

Song appropriate for the day by the Isley Brothers and the Average White Band.

Speaking of a piece of work, the late Vince Coletta was mentioned recently by two bloggers I know personally. First, Alan David Doane bemoans the fact that the very first book about an inker is someone who he (and many others) believe was one of the WORST working inkers in comicdom. Then Fred Hembeck is interviewed for TCJ, and he tells the story of DC Art Director Colletta dissing his work. Now, I’ve read this tale before; Fred might have even told me before. But there was one tasteless detail that I never knew before, or had long forgotten.

The late Rod Serling, of course, worked on the classic TV show the Twilight Zone. Gordon links to a lost Serling interview from 1970, the year I had the opportunity to (sort of) introduce him at an assembly at his high school alma mater. And Gordon even namechecks me in the intro! As I noted in the comments to the piece, it was painful to watch Serling fumble to light his cigarette then hear him say that those things were going to kill him; five years later, he proved to be right.

Finally, a mother is worried about her 16-year-old son’s infatuation with an older woman. Seems like a reasonable choice when it’s Betty White, who won Emmys in 1952 (as a co-producer, no less), in 2010, plus a few in between. If not the hardest working actress on TV, she’s certainly one of the longest working.

May Ramblin’

People DO confess to crimes they did not commit

If I think about the BP debacle, my blood boils. So I try not to, generally unsuccessfully.

DNA Clears NY Man Wrongly Convicted of 1988 Murder
Published: April 28, 2010
Filed at 3:29 p.m. ET

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — A New York truck driver who spent nearly 19 years behind bars for a 1988 slaying he didn’t commit walked free Wednesday after DNA testing exonerated him and instead pointed to another prison inmate.
The exonerated inmate, Frank Sterling, 46, was convicted of murder in 1992 based on a confession that he later recanted.
State Judge Thomas Van Strydonck vacated the conviction after Monroe County prosecutors agreed with lawyers for the Innocence Project that DNA evidence obtained from the victim’s clothing excluded him as the killer and pointed instead to
Mark Christie, who was convicted of strangling a 4-year-old girl in 1994.

There’s a couple things about this story that jump out at me;
1) that people DO confess to crimes they did not commit; Sterling “claimed he had slipped into a hypnotic state and parroted details police gave him about the crime”
2) DNA testing can and should be used to solve more cases. Yet there as a disturbing report this month on ABC News about tens of thousands rape kits go unprocessed, some for a period beyond the statue of limitations
3) I continue to oppose the death penalty because sometimes the authorities just get it wrong
Info sent me: Thirty years ago, Douglas Fraser, then president of what was still a million-member United Auto Workers union, presciently warned that the leaders of corporate America—in combination with the American Right—were waging a “one-sided class war.” He described it as “a war against working people, the unemployed, the poor, the minorities, the very young and the very old, and even many in the middle class of our society.”
A nominee we can all support for the Supreme Court
HP takes cue from Dick Tracy to develop a solar-powered wristwatch for the military that can display strategic information.
There is a search engine called Clusty. The technology has been purchased by something called Yippy.

Oh, we should say that we are a very far-out group of people. Everyone is a certified genius here and we work together for our goals for the love of it all. Good vs. Don’t be Evil … We are too smart to sell out to Porn, Gambling and other things that infect our society for profit. Good always wins, and conservative values will bring us our victory in the marketplace.
God controls all creative thought, it’s what you do with it that defines who you are.
Search Samples: Search of the word pornography
Sorry! Your choice of keywords indicates that you may be searching for a type of content which YIPPY does not allow. Please try another search term.

As someone sarcastically commented on the listserv where I found this: “How wonderful to see a search engine doing God’s will. It’s incredible!”
I get bulletins from Los Angeles Times. This past week I see: Big Bear teen becomes youngest to summit Everest, about 13-year-old Jordan Romero, who has been on a quest to climb the highest peaks on all seven continents. And what is my first thought? I didn’t know that “summit” was a verb.
I get Google alerts for my name. Peculiar title: Indecent assault accused whacked with brolly. This is from Guyana. Then there’s the story about the German driver who narrowly escaped a fiery crash.
Finally, this obit for Roger Green of Nashville, TN. Only 58 – damn.
Don’t use a public copy machine until you see this video from CBS News. If you’ve copied your birth certificate, passport, drivers license, social security card, or other extremely personal info on copy machines at places like Kwik Copy, Office Max, etc, you may never do so again.
Google Pac Man is a permanent page. So if you missed it on the two days it was the main Google page logo, you’re in luck.
This is the 40th anniversary of the Capital District Gay and Lesbian Community Council, which is sponsoring two full weeks of Pride events.
Evanier had this: Jonathan Ortloff Plays Springtime for Hitler on the Wurlitzer organ.

30-Day Challenge: Day 1 – Favorite Actor

Who would I pay to go to see in most anything they were in?

I took on this 30-day challenge because I thought it would be interesting. And, just as important, quick and easy. But I got stuck on the first question.

I assume “actor” is gender-neutral in this case.

Starting to parse the category, I began with theater actors. But I don’t really see stage actors that often, though in fact, this year’s Tony nominations feature a lot of familiar names from TV and movies.

Favorite television performer: I could pick actors I watched in more than one series: Bob Newhart (Bob Newhart Show, Newhart); James Garner (Maverick, The Rockford Files); Mary Tyler Moore (Dick van Dyke Show, MTM Show); Jimmy Smits (L.A. Law, NYPD Blue). There are others who qualify because of other functions, such as Alan Alda (writer/director). I might have to go with Betty White, game player extraordinaire, who’s been on TV longer than I’ve been alive, because not only did I record a new Saturday Night Live for the first time in forever, I might even check out her new series on TV Land called Hot in Cleveland.

Still, when I thought about it further, it was always the movies that defined the question in my mind, fairly or not. Which is to say: “Who would I pay to go to see in most anything they were in?” I recognized that the leading males in this category were Robert Redford, Paul Newman (a couple of times together), Dustin Hoffman, and Denzel Washington. It might be Philip Seymour Hoffman or Paul Giamatti down the line.

But there were two actresses for whom I saw a large majority of their films in a particular stretch.

One was Jane Fonda. I saw well over half of the movies she was in between 1969 (They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?) and 1985 (Agnes of God), even the truly dreadful Rollover (1981), filmed partly in Albany, NY.

The other is Meryl Streep, whose output between 1977 (Julia, starring Jane Fonda) and 2009 (the mediocre It’s Complicated) I’ve seen maybe 70% of.

Eventually, Laura Linney will likely be in this category.
All pictures from LIFE magazine from the 1990s.

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