The iconic “First Lady of Television”, Betty White, will live on in our hearts and memories. Betty sure knew how to live, give, and laugh. She was the most gracious ambassador of countless charities; she embodied the phrase “funny never gets old.” Although she didn’t seek out fanfare, she received many accolades throughout her life.
Talent and Timing
She originally wanted to be an opera singer or a park ranger, but instead started in radio and television in the late ‘30s. Although she never took a single acting class, she ended up in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest television career of any female. She was also the first woman to produce a television show. Known as “Life with Elizabeth”, this show ran from 1953 to 1955 and starred Ms. White as well. She hosted and starred in several shows throughout the ’50s and ’60s. She was nominated for her first Primetime Emmy in 1951 for her work as a television actress and host but did not win the award that year. However, over her lifetime, she won a total of 8 Emmys. She also did many commercials, her first being for Parkay margarine. Speaking of food, she joked about how she stayed away from anything green and loved red licorice. In fact, Betty indulged in hot dogs, fries, and even sipped a martini on occasion.
Maverick at Heart
She truly loved parades and hosted the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Tournament of the Roses from ‘62-’71. She actually turned down a hosting job at the Today Show because she didn’t want to fly back and forth from LA to NYC even though she had been offered a suite at the swanky St. Regis hotel. Barbara Walters got the gig instead. One thing that's for sure is Ms. White’s lifelong love of animals. In 1971, she hosted a show called “The Pet Set” featuring celebrities and their pets. A quote I love from her is “Animals don’t lie. Animals don’t criticize. If animals have moody days, they handle them better than humans do.” From childhood trips to the Sierra Nevada mountains, she discovered a passion for the outdoors, and at 88 she became an honorary park ranger.
Forever Defying Expectations
She was candid about getting older and never lied about her age. She even used to say that it should be bragged about! Rose, the naïve and ditzy character she played on “The Golden Girls”, was a departure from the real Betty White and it proved to be her best-known role. She was originally cast to play the flirtatious Southern Belle character of Blanche, but the director suggested that she and Rue McClanahan switch roles, and the rest is history. In reality, her brain was as big as her personality, which she demonstrated on “Password” and many other game shows, earning her the title “the First Lady of Game Shows”. She was also a regular on Johnny Carson’s famous talk show where the two were a hilarious comedic duo. Always a funny gal, she stayed current with appearances on “Saturday Night Live” and sitcoms like “Hot in Cleveland”.
Honoring the Legendary Lady
In the spirit of Betty who lived out loud and loved to dress the part, let’s wear sparkly jackets and beautiful flower prints. Just don’t forget some bright lipstick and a smile!
What are your favorite Betty White moments from her many years on television? Let us know in the comments below!