I am 44 years old and throughout my life, I have known a few people who were a part of some aspect of my life (minus the family). And the most prominent has been the amazing Betty White.
When I was a little girl I remember my mother laughing out loud to the Mary Tyler Moore Show. When I was in college I had one night a week reserved for The Golden Girls. My daughter and I enjoy our weekly fix of Hot In Cleveland.
So when my own mother and I were talking earlier this morning, I mentioned Betty White turning 91 to her. Betty is old enough to be my own grandmother, and has entertained a total of 4 generations. My own grandmother remembers Life With Elizabeth back in the 50’s. And my mother’s love for Match Game and my love for Golden Girls has passed down to my 18 year-old daughters love for Hot In Cleveland.
So Betty White is an important part of our lives and has made us all laugh longer than any living person in history.
Betty Marion White Ludden was born January 17, 1922. With a career spanning over nine separate decades, she is best known to contemporary audiences for her television roles as Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls. Since the death of co-star Rue McClanahan in 2010, she is now the only living Golden Girl. She currently stars as Elka Ostrovsky in the TV Land sitcom Hot in Cleveland for which she has won two consecutive Screen Actors Guild Awards. She also currently hosts the practical-joke show Betty White’s Off Their Rockers.
White has won a Grammy as well as seven Emmy Awards (six for acting), receiving 21 Emmy nominations over the course of her career, including being the first woman ever to receive an Emmy for game show hosting (for the short-lived Just Men!) and is the only person to have an Emmy in all female performing comedic categories. In May 2010, White became the oldest person to guest-host Saturday Night Live, for which she also received a Primetime Emmy Award. White also holds the record for longest span between Emmy nominations for performances – her first was in 1951 and her most recent was in 2012, a span of 61 years – and has become the oldest nominee as of 2012, aged 90. She has made regular appearances on the game shows Password and Match Game and played recurring roles on Mama’s Family, Boston Legal, The Bold and the Beautiful, That 70’s Show, and Community.
White began her television career in 1939, three months after high school graduation, when she and a classmate sang songs from The Merry Widow on an experimental Los Angeles channel.White found work modeling, and her first professional acting job was at the Bliss Hayden Little Theatre. White’s career was disrupted immediately, as World War II broke out, causing her to join the American Women’s Voluntary Services. In the 1940s, she worked in radio appearing on shows such as Blondie, The Great Gildersleeve, and This Is Your FBI. She then got her own radio show, called The Betty White Show.
In 1949, she began appearing as co-host with Al Jarvis on his daily, live variety show Hollywood on Television on KLAC in Los Angeles. White began hosting the show by herself in 1952 after Jarvis’ departure, spanning five and a half hours of live ad-lib television six days per week over a contiguous four-year span altogether. In all of her various variety series over the years, White would sing at least a couple of songs during each broadcast. In 1950, Betty was nominated for her first Emmy Award as “Best Actress” on television, competing with such legendary stars as Judith Anderson, Helen Hayes, and Imogene Coca (the award went to Gertrude Berg). This was the very first award and category in the new Emmy history designated for women on television.
In 1952, the same year she began hosting Hollywood on Television, White co-founded Bandy Productions with writer George Tibbles and Don Fedderson, a producer. The trio worked to create new shows using existing characters from sketches shown on Hollywood on Television. White, Fedderson, and Tibbles created the television comedy Life With Elizabeth, based on a Hollywood on Television sketch. White portrayed the title character on the sitcom from 1952 to 1955, which effectively boosted her career. Life With Elizabeth was nationally syndicated by the mid-1950s, allowing White to become one of the few women in television with full creative control in front of and behind the camera at the time. Although several sources state White won an Emmy for the show this appears to be incorrect, and may be a matter of confusing the 1950 nomination with a win.
MARY TYLER MOORE TO GOLDEN GIRLS
In 1973, White made a guest appearance in season four of The Mary Tyler Moore Show as The Happy Homemaker. As a result of her guest appearance, White landed her most significant role at that point as the sardonic, man-hungry Sue Ann Nivens, The Happy Homemaker, on The Mary Tyler Moore Show as a full-time cast member. The running gag was that Sue Ann’s hard-edged private personality was the complete opposite of how she presented herself on her show. “We need somebody who can play sickeningly sweet, like Betty White,” Moore herself suggested at a production meeting, which resulted in casting White herself. White won two back-to-back Emmy Awards for her role in the hugely popular series.
Following that show’s end in 1977, she was given her own sitcom on CBS, The Betty White Show, during the 1977–78 season, in which she co-starred with John Hillerman and former Mary Tyler Moore co-star Georgia Engel. It was canceled after one season. White appeared several times on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson appearing in many sketches, and began guest-starring in a number of television movies and television miniseries, including With This Ring, The Best Place to Be, Before and After, and The Gossip Columnist.
THE GOLDEN GIRLS
In 1983, she became the first woman to win a Daytime Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Game Show Host, for the NBC entry Just Men!. Due to the amount of work she has done on them, she has been deemed the “First Lady of Game Shows”.
From 1983 through 1985, she had a recurring role playing Ellen Harper Jackson on the series Mama’s Family, along with future Golden Girls co-star Rue McClanahan. White had originated this character in a series of sketches on The Carol Burnett Show in the 1970s. When Mama’s Family was picked up in syndication after being canceled by NBC in 1985, White left the show (with the exception of one final appearance in the show’s syndicated version in 1986).
In 1985, she scored her second signature role and the biggest hit of her career as the St. Olaf, Minnesota-native Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls. The series chronicled the lives of four widowed or divorced women in their “golden years” who shared a home in Miami. The Golden Girls, which also starred Bea Arthur, Estelle Getty, and Rue McClanahan, was immensely successful and ran from 1985 through 1992. White won one Emmy Award, for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series, for the first season of The Golden Girls and was nominated in that category every year of the show’s run (the only cast member to receive that distinction — Getty was also nominated every year, but in the supporting actress category). When Beatrice Arthur left in 1992, White, McClanahan, and Getty reprised their roles Rose, Blanche, and Sophia in the spin-off The Golden Palace. The series was short-lived, lasting only one season. In addition, White reprised her Rose Nylund character in guest appearances on the NBC shows Empty Nest and Nurses, both of which were set in Miami.
White was originally offered the role of Blanche in The Golden Girls, and Rue McClanahan was offered the role of Rose (the two characters being similar to roles they had played in Mary Tyler Moore and Maude, respectively). Jay Sandrich, the director of the pilot, suggested that since they had played similar roles in the past, they should switch roles, Rue McClanahan later said in a documentary on the series. White was originally scared to play Rose, feeling that she would not be able to play the role—until the show’s creator took her aside and told her not to play Rose as stupid but to play her as someone “terminally naive, a person who always believed the first explanation of something.” Despite being the eldest of the four women, White is the only surviving regular cast member, following the deaths of Estelle Getty in July 2008, Bea Arthur in April 2009, and Rue McClanahan in June 2010.
SOMETHING PERSONAL ABOUT BETTY
On June 14, 1963, White married television host and personality Allen Ludden, whom she had met on his game show Password as a celebrity guest in 1961, and her legal name was changed to Betty White Ludden. He proposed to White at least twice before she accepted. The couple appeared together in an episode of The Odd Couple featuring Felix’s and Oscar’s appearance on Password. Ludden appeared as a guest panelist on Match Game, with White sitting in the audience. (She was prompted to criticize one of Ludden’s wrong answers on camera during an episode of Match Game ’74). The two appeared together on the Match Game panel in 1975.
Allen Ludden died from stomach cancer on June 9, 1981, in Los Angeles. They had no children together, though she is stepmother to his three children from his first marriage. White has not remarried since Ludden’s death.
When asked about her real-life heroes, White told Vanity Fair, “Charles Darwin“.
White is a practicing member of the Unity Church.
— After research, we copied all information from WIKIPEDIA.
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