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Betty White

Betty White
File:Betty White 2010.jpg
White at the Time 100 gala in 2010
Born Betty Marion White
(1922-01-17) January 17, 1922 (age 98)
Oak Park, Illinois, U.S.
Other names Betty White Ludden[1]
Education Horace Mann School
Alma mater Beverly Hills High School
Occupation Actress, comedian, writer, singer
Years active 1939–present
Home town Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
Television Hollywood on Television
Life with Elizabeth
Date with the Angels
The Mary Tyler Moore Show
The Betty White Show
Mama's Family
The Golden Girls
The Golden Palace
Boston Legal
Hot in Cleveland
Betty White's Off Their Rockers
Spouse(s) Dick Barker (m. 1945; div. 1945)
Lane Allen (m. 1947; div. 1949)
Allen Ludden (m. 1963; his death 1981)
Emmy Awards
Outstanding Game Show Host
1983 Just Men!
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
1975 The Mary Tyler Moore Show
1976 The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
1986 The Golden Girls
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
1996 The John Larroquette Show
2010 Saturday Night Live
BAFTA Awards
Britannia Award
2010 Excellence in Comedy
Grammy Awards
Best Spoken Word Album
2012 If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won't)
American Comedy Awards
Funniest Female Performer in a TV Series (Leading Role) Network, Cable or Syndication
1987 The Golden Girls
Lifetime Achievement Award in Comedy
Funniest Female Guest Appearance in a TV Series
2000 Ally McBeal
Screen Actors Guild Awards
Life Achievement Award
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
2011 Hot in Cleveland
2012 Hot in Cleveland

Betty White Ludden (born Betty Marion White; January 17, 1922), known professionally as Betty White, is an American actress, comedienne, author, producer, radio host, singer, and television personality. In 2013, the Guinness World Records awarded White with having the longest television career for a female entertainer.[2] To contemporary audiences, White is best known for her roles as Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1973–77) and Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls (1985–92). The Writers Guild of America has included both sitcoms in its list of the 101 Best Written TV Series Of All Time.[3] Since the death of co-star Rue McClanahan in 2010, she is the only surviving Golden Girl. Since 2010 she has starred as Elka Ostrovsky in the TV Land sitcom Hot in Cleveland, for which she has won two consecutive Screen Actors Guild Awards, presented the practical-joke show Betty White's Off Their Rockers, which resulted in three consecutive Emmy nominations and became the oldest person to guest-host Saturday Night Live, a performance which was a major ratings success and earned her a Primetime Emmy award.

Regarded as a pioneer of television, White was one of the first women to have creative control both in front of and behind the camera;[4] and is recognized as the first woman to produce a sitcom.[5] which contributed to her receiving the honorary title as the Mayor of Hollywood in 1955.[6] In a career that has spanned more than 75 years, White has received 24 Emmy nominations with seven wins as well as three American Comedy Awards, three Screen Actors Guild awards, a BAFTA, a Grammy and four Golden Globes nominations.[7] In 2015 White was given the 'Favorite TV Icon Award at the People's Choice Awards. With 18 Emmy acting nominations, White is second only to Cloris Leachman — with whom she's often collaborated[8] — as the most nominated actress in the award's history. She is also the only woman to have received an Emmy in all performing comedic categories and also holds the record for longest span between Emmy nominations for performances—her first was in 1951 and her most recent was in 2011, a span of 60 years. She is also the oldest winner of a competitive Grammy Award and the oldest nominee of a performing Emmy. A staple guest of many American game shows such as Password, Match Game and The $25,000 Pyramid, White has been dubbed the 'First Lady of Game Shows' and became the first woman to receive an Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host in 1983 for the show Just Men!.[9]

Due to her pioneering efforts in early television and her acting legacy, the American Comedy Awards, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Television Critics Association, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, the Daytime Emmy Awards, the People's Choice Awards and the TV Land Awards have all awarded White with lifetime achievement awards, recognizing her contribution to television. White has also been formally inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame and has received the Disney Legends award.

White is also known for her animal welfare work. She has donated tens of thousands of dollars to the Los Angeles Zoo and has been a member of the board of directors since 1974.[10]

Early life

White was born Betty Marion White in Oak Park, Illinois, on January 17, 1922. She has stated that her legal name is Betty and not a shortened version of Elizabeth.[11][12][13] She is the only child of Christine Tess (née Cachikis), a homemaker, and Horace Logan White,[14] a lighting company executive.[15][16][17] Her paternal grandfather was Danish and her maternal grandfather was Greek, with her other roots being English and Welsh (both of her grandmothers were Canadian).[18][19][20] White's family moved to Los Angeles, California, during the Great Depression.[21][22] She attended Horace Mann School Beverly Hills and Beverly Hills High School. Hoping to become a writer, she wrote and played the lead in a graduation play at Horace Mann School and discovered her interest in performing.[1] This is where she decided to become an actress. Author Michael McWilliams said in his book TV Sirens, "If Lucille Ball is the Queen of Television, then its Princess is Betty White." But White did not start off as television royalty.[15]


1939–73: Radio career, Life With Elizabeth and television pioneer

White made rounds to movie studios looking for work, but was always turned down because she was "unphotogenic". So then she started to look for radio jobs where being "photogenic" did not matter. Her first radio jobs included reading commercials and playing bit parts, and sometimes even doing crowd noises. She made about five dollars a show. She would do just about anything, like singing on a show for no money, or making an appearance on the local game show.[15] 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.[23][1][24] 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.[25]

In 1949, she began appearing as co-host with Al Jarvis on his daily live television variety show Hollywood on Television, originally called Al Jarvis' Make-Believe Ballroom on KFWB radio and on KLAC-TV in Los Angeles.[4][24] White began hosting the show by herself in 1952 after Jarvis' departure,[4] 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 1951 White won her first Emmy for most outstanding female personality, a Los Angeles regional award.[26]

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.[4] 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.[4] White portrayed the title character on the sitcom from 1952 to 1955, which effectively boosted her career.[4] 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.[4] Although several sources state White won an Emmy for the show[4][12][24][27] this appears to be incorrect,[28] and may be a matter of confusing the 1950 nomination with a win. The show was unusual for a sitcom in the 1950s because it was co-produced and owned by a twenty-eight-year-old woman who still lived with her parents. White said they didn't worry about relevance in those days, and that usually the incidents were based on real life situations that happened to her, the actor who played Alvin, and the writer.[15]

File:Betty White in The Betty White Show 1954 (2).jpg
White in the original The Betty White Show, a 1954 daily talk show.

In 1954, she briefly hosted and produced her own daily talk show, The Betty White Show, on NBC (not to be confused with her 1970s sitcom of the same name).[4] Following Life with Elizabeth, she appeared as Vicki Angel on the sitcom Date with the Angels from 1957 to 1958. The show later became another variety series before going off the air.[4] White performed in commercials seen on live television in Los Angeles, including a spirited rendition of the "Dr. Ross Dog Food" advertisement at KTLA during the 1950s.

She made her feature film debut as Kansas Senator Elizabeth Ames Adams in the 1962 drama, Advise & Consent. Despite her performance being well received, it would be her only big-screen appearance for decades.

Betty White's greatest fame during the 1960s and early 1970s with the general public was likely from her long stint as hostess and commentator on the annual Tournament of Roses Parade broadcast on NBC, often co-hosting with Lorne Greene. White began a nineteen-year run as host on the program in 1956; NBC replaced her in 1975, feeling she was too identified with rival network CBS due to her new found success on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. White admitted to People magazine it was difficult "watching someone else do my parade",[29] although she soon would start a ten-year run as hostess of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade for CBS.

White would receive her second and third Emmys from her part on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. White considers her part as Sue Ann in the show one of the highlights of her professional career, but she describes her television image as "icky sweet." She felt that she was the very definition of feminine passivity, owing to the fact that White always seemed willing to satirize her own unique persona on screen in just such a way.[15]

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, White appeared on a number of late night talk shows and daytime game shows, including Password.[4] White made many appearances on the hit game show Password as a celebrity guest from 1961 through 1975. She married the show's host, Allen Ludden, in 1963.[4] She subsequently appeared on the show's three updated versions Password Plus, Super Password, and Million Dollar Password, having been on versions of the game with five different hosts (Allen Ludden, Bill Cullen, Tom Kennedy, Bert Convy, and Regis Philbin). White made frequent game show appearances on What's My Line? (starting in 1955), To Tell the Truth (in 1961 and in 1990), I've Got a Secret (in 1972–73), Match Game (1973–1982), and Pyramid (starting in 1982). Both Password and Pyramid were created by White's friend, Bob Stewart.

1973–85: Continued success, comedic endeavors and The Mary Tyler Moore Show

In 1973, White made a guest appearance in season four of The Mary Tyler Moore Show as The Happy Homemaker.[4] 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.[4] 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.[4]

Following that show's end in 1977, she was given her own sitcom on CBS, her second series entitled The Betty White Show[4] (the first having been broadcast a quarter century earlier), 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.[4]

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!.[30] Due to the amount of work she has done on them, she has been deemed the "First Lady of Game Shows".[31]

From 1983 through 1985, she had a recurring role playing Ellen Harper Jackson on the series Mama's Family,[4] 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).

1985–2000: The Golden Girls and new career heights

File:Betty White 1989 Emmy Awards.jpg
White at the 1989 Emmy Awards

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.[4] 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[4] 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.[4] 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.[4]

File:Betty White 1988 Emmy Awards 2.jpg
White at the 1988 Emmy Awards

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 afraid 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.[32]

After The Golden Girls ended,[4] White guest-starred on a number of television programs including Ally McBeal, The Ellen Show, My Wife and Kids, That '70s Show, Everwood, Joey, and Malcolm in the Middle. She received Emmy Award nominations for her appearances on Suddenly Susan, Yes, Dear and The Practice. She won an Emmy in 1996 for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series, appearing as herself on an episode of The John Larroquette Show. In that episode, titled "Here We Go Again", a spoof on Sunset Boulevard, a diva-like White convinces Larroquette to help write her memoirs. In one bit, Golden Girls co-stars McClanahan and Getty appear as themselves. Larroquette is forced to dress in drag as Beatrice Arthur, when all four appear in public as the "original" cast members. White comically envisions her Rose as the central character with the other cast members as mere supporting players.

The actress has lent her voice to several animated shows, including The Simpsons, King of the Hill, The Wild Thornberrys, Family Guy, and Father of the Pride.[4] In 1999, she had a supporting role in the monster film Lake Placid, as a widow who later is revealed to have raised the giant crocodile (which accidentally ate her husband)

2000–present: Hollywood mainstay and career resurgence, Hot in Cleveland

White at the premiere for The Proposal in June 2009

White's career has been in revival throughout the first two decades of the 2000s, and her continuing cultural relevance is reflected in the numerous television and film projects she has been a part of. In December 2006, White joined the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful in the role of Ann Douglas, the long-lost mother of the show's matriarch, Stephanie Forrester, who was played by Susan Flannery. In February 2007, White returned as Ann, who had an intent to move to Los Angeles to be near her daughters.[33] The characters of Ann and Pamela Douglas (Alley Mills) disappeared after their March 27, 2007, appearance and were not mentioned again until October 19, 2007, when Ann appeared briefly. White would go on to appear in three more episodes following that, one on December 10, 2007; August 28, 2008; and October 28, 2008. She returned to the show on November 18, 2009 and in the November 19, 2009 episode her character revealed that she was dying of advanced pancreatic cancer. To date she has made 22 appearances as Ann Douglas. In the November 23, 2009 episode Ann passes away due to complications from her illness, with both of her daughters at her side on the beach at Paradise Cove.

In the broadcast of the 2007 TV Land Awards, White starred in a parody of Ugly Betty, aptly titled Ugly Betty White, in which she played America Ferrera's title character, with Charo playing White's sister Hilda, and Erik Estrada playing her father Ignacio.[34] Her performance earned her a part on Ugly Betty as herself, the victim of Wilhelmina Slater's temper as they vie for a cab in the episode "Bananas for Betty", which aired December 6, 2007.

White had a recurring role in ABC's Boston Legal from 2005 to 2008 as the calculating, blackmailing gossip-monger Catherine Piper, a role she originally portrayed as a guest star on The Practice in 2004.[4]

White appeared as a roaster on the Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner in 2006. On May 19, 2008, White appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, taking part in the host's Mary Tyler Moore Show reunion special alongside every surviving cast member of the series.

Beginning in 2007, White was featured in television commercials for PetMeds, highlighting her interest in animal rights and welfare.[35]

She was honored at the Sixth Annual TV Land Awards with the Pop Culture Award on June 8, 2008. She accepted it along with co-stars Bea Arthur and Rue McClanahan.

White returned to Password in its latest incarnation, Million Dollar Password, on June 12, 2008, (episode #3), participating in the Million Dollar challenge at the end of the show. Her quick correct responses helped the contestant win $100,000. White returned to the show again on December 28, 2008 (episode #9), helping the contestants win $25,000 each. White has made a number of appearances in skits on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, playing the part of an Exxon representative, a Girl Scout, an accountant with a briefcase full of cocaine, a nurse who just got her medical license from El Salvador, a newspaper delivery girl, a prison guard, and an Apple representative. She appeared as herself with a shoe box full of receipts, explaining that she was doing her taxes. She appeared as herself to promote Together: A Story of Shared Vision by her and Tom Sullivan. On July 18, 2008, she appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in a skit entitled "Can You Make Betty White Flinch".

White guest starred as the "Witch Lady" on an episode of My Name Is Earl, and starred on Chelsea Handler's late night show Chelsea Lately. Some of her other most recent television credits in the 2000s include Stealing Christmas, Annie's Point and The Retrievers.[4] Her film credits in the late 1990s and early 2000s included Hard Rain, Dennis the Menace Strikes Again and Bringing Down the House, in which she co-starred with Steve Martin and Queen Latifah.[4]

White appeared in the 2009 motion picture The Proposal with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds.[4] White provided the English language voice of Yoshie in the anime film Ponyo,[4] which was released in Japan in 2008 and in the United States and Canada on August 14, 2009. She co-starred with Kristen Bell in the 2010 film, You Again.[4]

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.[36] The slogan was, "You're not you when you're hungry".[37]

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, beating Miskel Spillman, the winner of SNL's "Anybody Can Host" contest, who was 80 when she hosted in 1977.[38] The May 8 SNL episode garnered the show's highest ratings since November 1, 2008, when Ben Affleck hosted.[39] 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."[22] The appearance earned her a 2010 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series, her seventh Emmy win overall.

In June 2010, White took on the role of Elka Ostrovsky the house caretaker on TV Land's original sitcom Hot in Cleveland along with Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves and Wendie Malick. In 2011, she was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Elka, but lost to Julie Bowen for Modern Family.[40]

A Betty White calendar for 2011 was published in late 2010. The calendar features photos from her career and her pictured with various animals.[41] She also debuted her own clothing line on July 22, 2010, which features shirts with her face on them. All proceeds will also go to various animal charities she supports.[42]

She guest-starred in the second-season premiere of NBC's Community as an anthropology professor.[43] In 2010, she also guest starred in The Middle and 30 Rock.[44] She also had a role as Mrs. Claus in Prep & Landing: Operation: Secret Santa,[45] the sequel to Disney's Prep & Landing, and began providing the voice for recurring character Agatha McLeish on The Hub's Pound Puppies.[46]

White also starred in the Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation of The Lost Valentine on January 30, 2011. This presentation garnered the highest rating for a Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation in the last four years and according to the Nielsen Media Research TV rating service won first place in the prime time slot for that date.[47]

White has published several books over the span of her career. In August 2010, she entered a deal with G.P. Putnam Sons to produce two more books, the first of which, If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won't), was released in 2011.[48] In December 2011, White received her first ever Grammy Award ("Best Spoken Word Recording") for the audio recording of the book.[49]

NBC announced in early 2011 that White would be host and executive producer of a new show, Betty White's Off Their Rockers, in which senior citizens play practical jokes on the younger generation.[50]

In 2011, White appeared in the Visit California promotional film on YouTube aimed at boosting tourism from the UK.

In September 2011, she teamed up with English singer Luciana to produce a remix of her song "I'm Still Hot". The song was released digitally on September 22 and the video later premiered on October 6.[51] It was made for a campaign for a life settlement program, The Lifeline. White served as a judge alongside Whoopi Goldberg and Wendy Diamond for the American Humane Association's Hero Dog Awards airing on The Hallmark Channel on November 8, 2011.[52]

A special Betty White's 90th Birthday Party aired on NBC a day before her birthday on January 16, 2012. The show featured appearances of many stars with whom White has worked over the years.[53] Betty White's Off Their Rockers aired following the celebratory event, and returned in April 2012 as a recurring show which resulted in an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program. White's success continued in 2012 with her first Grammy Award for a spoken word recording for her best seller If You Ask Me. She also won the UCLA Jack Benny Award for Comedy, recognizing her significant contribution to comedy in television, and was roasted at the New York Friars' Club.[54] Hot in Cleveland continued its rating success, with White receiving her third consecutive Screen Actor's Guild Award nomination. In January 2013, NBC once again celebrated Betty White's birthday with a TV special featuring celebrity friends, including former president Bill Clinton; the special aired on February 5.[55] In February 2014, White appeared as a guest host on WWE Raw.[56]

In 2013, she voiced a character on the Disney Channel show Mickey Mouse.[57]

In 2014, she reprised her Elka Ostrovsky character as a guest appearance in an episode on the TV Land sitcom The Soul Man.


White is a pet enthusiast and animal health advocate who works with a number of animal organizations, including the Los Angeles Zoo Commission, the Morris Animal Foundation, African Wildlife Foundation, and Actors & Others for Animals. Her interest in animal rights and welfare began in the early 1970s while she was both producing and hosting the syndicated series, The Pet Set, which spotlighted celebrities and their pets.[4]

As of 2009, White is the president emerita of the Morris Animal Foundation, where she has served as a trustee of the organization since 1971.[4] She has been a member of the board of directors of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association since 1974.[4] Additionally, White served the zoo association as a Zoo Commissioner for eight years.[4]

According to the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Garden's "ZooScape" Member Newsletter, White hosted "History on Film" from 2000 to 2002. White donated nearly $100,000 to the zoo in the month of April 2008 alone.

Betty White served as a presenter at the 2011 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards ceremony at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 1, 2011, in Los Angeles.[58]

Personal life

File:Allen Ludden Betty White1968.JPG
White and Ludden in 1968.

In 1945, White married Dick Barker, a U.S. Army Air Corps pilot.[59] The marriage was short-lived. In 1947, she married Lane Allen, a Hollywood agent.[59] This marriage ended in divorce in 1949.

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,[60] 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 1974, 1975 and 1980.

Allen Ludden died from stomach cancer on June 9, 1981, in Los Angeles.[13][61][62] They had no children together, though she is stepmother to his three children from his first marriage, when his wife had passed away. White has not remarried since Ludden's death. In an interview with Larry King, when asked whether or not she would remarry, she replied by saying "Once you've had the best, who needs the rest?"[63]

When asked about her real-life heroes, White told Vanity Fair, "Charles Darwin".[64]

White is a practicing member of the Unity Church.[65]

She is also a registered Democrat.[66] She endorsed President Barack Obama in 2012 saying she "likes how he represents us".[67]

In a 2011 interview, White said that she always knew her close friend Liberace was homosexual and that she sometimes accompanied him to premieres.[68] A supporter of homosexual rights, White said that "If a couple has been together all that time – and there are homosexual relationships that are more solid than some heterosexual ones—I think it's fine if they want to get married. I don't know how people can get so anti-something. Mind your own business, take care of your affairs, and don't worry about other people so much".[69]

Awards, honors and nominations

File:Betty White 1992 Emmy Awards.jpg
White at the 1992 Emmy Awards

White has won six Emmy Awards, three American Comedy Awards (including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990), and two Viewers for Quality Television Awards. She was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1995 and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6747 Hollywood Boulevard alongside the star of her late husband Allen Ludden.

White was the recipient of the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters Golden Ike Award and the Genii Award from the American Women in Radio and Television in 1976.[4] The American Comedy Awards awarded her the award for Funniest Female in 1987 as well as the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990.[4] She was formally inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame in 1995. In 2009, White received the TCA Career Achievement Award from the Television Critics Association.[4]

The American Veterinary Medical Association awarded White with its Humane Award in 1987 for her charitable work with animals.[4] The City of Los Angeles further honored her for her philanthropic work with animals in 2006 with a bronze plaque near the Gorilla Exhibit at the Los Angeles Zoo.[4] The City of Los Angeles named her "Ambassador to the Animals" at the dedication ceremony.[4]

In September 2009, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) announced plans to honor White with the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award at the 16th Screen Actors Guild Awards. Sandra Bullock presented White with the award on January 23, 2010, at the ceremony, which took place at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.[4] She is a Kentucky Colonel.[70] In 2009, White and her now-deceased Golden Girls cast mates Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty were awarded honorary Disney Legend awards. Betty was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in December 2010. In 2010 she was chosen as the Associated Press's Entertainer of the Year.[71]

On November 9, 2010, the USDA Forest Service, along with Smokey Bear, made actress Betty White an honorary forest ranger, fulfilling her lifelong dream.[72] White said in previous interviews that she wanted to be a forest ranger as a little girl but that women were not allowed to do that then. Today's United States Forest Service is 38 percent female, including rangers, scientists, and leaders at every level.

In January 2011, White received a SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series for her role as Elka Ostrovsky in Hot in Cleveland. The show itself was also nominated for an award as Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, but lost to the cast of Modern Family.[73] She won the same award again in 2012, and has received a third nomination.[74]

A 2011 poll conducted by Reuters and Ipsos revealed that White was considered to be the most popular and most trusted celebrity among Americans, beating out the likes of Denzel Washington, Sandra Bullock, and Tom Hanks.[75]

In October 2011, White was awarded an honorary degree and white doctors coat by Washington State University at the Washington State Veterinary Medical Association's centennial gala in Yakima, Washington.

In 2012, White won her first Grammy, aged 90 for the audio version of her best-selling book.

Year Award Category Work Result
1951 Emmy Award Best Actress Life with Elizabeth Nominated
1952 Emmy Award outstanding female personality Life with Elizabeth Won
1975 Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series The Mary Tyler Moore Show Won
1976 Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series The Mary Tyler Moore Show Won
1977 Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series The Mary Tyler Moore Show Nominated
1983 Emmy Awards Outstanding Game Show Host Just Men! Won
1984 Emmy Awards Outstanding Game Show Host Just Men! Nominated
1986 Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series The Golden Girls Won
1986 Golden Apple Award Female Star of the Year Won
1986 Golden Globes Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy The Golden Girls Nominated
1987 Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series The Golden Girls Nominated
1987 Golden Globes Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy The Golden Girls Nominated
1987 American Comedy Awards Funniest Female Performer in a TV Series (Leading Role) Network, Cable or Syndication The Golden Girls Won
1987 Viewers for Quality Television Best Actress in a Quality Comedy Series The Golden Girls Won
1988 Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series The Golden Girls Nominated
1988 Golden Globes Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy The Golden Girls Nominated
1988 Viewers for Quality Television Best Actress in a Quality Comedy Series The Golden Girls Won
1989 Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series The Golden Girls Nominated
1989 Golden Globes Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy The Golden Girls Nominated
1990 Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series The Golden Girls Nominated
1990 American Comedy Awards Funniest Female Performer in a TV Series (Leading Role) Network, Cable or Syndication The Golden Girls Nominated
1990 American Comedy Awards Lifetime Achievement Award in Comedy Won
1991 Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series The Golden Girls Nominated
1992 Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series The Golden Girls Nominated
1995 Walk of Fame Star on the Walk of Fame Won
1996 Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series The John Larroquette Show Won
1997 Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Suddenly Susan Nominated
2000 American Comedy Awards Funniest Female Guest Appearance in a TV Series Ally McBeal Won
2003 Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Yes, Dear Nominated
2003 TV Land Awards Quintessential Non-Traditional Family Won
2004 Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series The Practice Nominated
2004 TV Land Awards Groundbreaking Show Won
2008 TV Land Awards Pop Culture Award Won
2009 Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series My Name Is Earl Nominated
2009 Television Critics Association Career Achievement Award Won
2009 Disney Legends Disney Legends Won
2010 Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award Won
2010 MTV Movie Awards Best WTF Moment The Proposal Nominated
2010 MTV Movie Awards Best Comedic Performance The Proposal Nominated
2010 Teen Choice Award Best Dance (with Sandra Bullock) The Proposal Won
2010 Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Saturday Night Live Won
2010 NewNowNext Awards Cause You're Hot Nominated
2011 People's Choice Awards Favorite TV Guest Star Community Nominated
2011 People's Choice Awards Favorite Web Celeb Nominated
2011 Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Hot in Cleveland Nominated
2011 Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series Hot in Cleveland Won
2011 Gracie Allen Awards Best Actress in a Comedy Series Hot in Cleveland Won
2011 The Comedy Awards Best Actress in a TV Comedy Hot in Cleveland Nominated
2011 Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Hot in Cleveland Nominated
2011 UCLA Jack Benny Award Comedian Won
2011 Grammy Awards Best Spoken Word Recording If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won't) Won
2012 Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by Female Actor in a Comedy Series Hot in Cleveland Won
2012 Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie The Lost Valentine Nominated
2012 Emmy Awards Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program Betty White's Off Their Rockers Nominated
2013 Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by Female Actor in a Comedy Series Hot in Cleveland Nominated
2013 Emmy Awards Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program Betty White's Off Their Rockers Nominated
2014 Emmy Awards Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program Betty White's Off Their Rockers Nominated
2015 People's Choice Awards TV icon Herself Won



Year Title Role Notes
1945 Time to Kill Lou's Girl Short film
1962 Advise & Consent Senator Bessie Adams
1971 Vanished Hostess
1978 With This Ring Evelyn Harris Television film
1979 The Best Place to Be Sally Cantrell Television film
1979 Before and After Anita Television film
1980 The Hollywood Knights Herself
1980 The Gossip Columnist Herself Television film
1982 Eunice Ellen Television film
1986 Big City Comedy Herself
1987 Alf Loves a Mystery Aunt Harriet Television film
1991 Chance of a Lifetime Evelyn Eglin Television film
1996 A Weekend in the Country Martha Television film
1996 The Story of Santa Claus Gretchen Claus Voice
1998 Hard Rain Doreen Sears
1998 Dennis the Menace Strikes Again! Martha Wilson
1998 Holy Man Herself
1999 Lake Placid Mrs. Delores Bickerman
1999 The Story of Us Lillian Jordan
2000 Whispers: An Elephant's Tale Round Voice
2000 Tom Sawyer Aunt Polly Voice
2001 The Retrievers Mrs. Krisper
2001 The Wild Thornberrys: The Origin of Donnie Grandma Sophie Voice
2003 Bringing Down the House Mrs. Kline
2003 Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt Cameo
2003 Stealing Christmas Emily Sutton Television film
2005 The Third Wish Lettie
2005 Annie's Point Annie Eason Television film
2006 Where's Marty? Herself
2007 Your Mommy Kills Animals Herself Documentary
2007 In Search of Puppy Love Herself Documentary
2008 Ponyo Yoshie Voice
2009 Love N' Dancing Irene
2009 The Proposal Grandma Annie
2009 Part Two: The Warm Mission Betty Short film
2010 You Again Grandma Bunny
2010 Prep & Landing: Operation: Secret Santa Mrs. Claus Voice
2011 Betty White: Champion for Animals Herself Documentary
2011 The Lost Valentine Caroline Thomas Television film
2012 The Lorax Grammy Norma Voice
2013 Letters to Jackie: Remembering President Kennedy Narrator Documentary
2013 Betty White Goes Wild Herself Documentary


Year Title Role Notes
1949–50 Hollywood on Television Herself
1952 The Eddie Albert Show Herself
1953–55 Life with Elizabeth Elizabeth Series regular, 65 episodes
1954 The Betty White Show Herself From February 8, 1954 to December 31, 1954
1955–56 What's My Line? Herself 8 episodes
1956 The Millionaire Virginia Lennart Episode: "Millionaire Virginia Lennart"
1957–58 Date with the Angels Vickie Angel Series regular, 33 episodes
1958 The Betty White Show Herself Series regular, 13 episodes
1958–62 The Jack Paar Show Herself 36 episodes
1958–63 To Tell the Truth Herself 39 episodes
1961–75 Password 24 episodes
1962 The United States Steel Hour Episode: "Scene of the Crime"
1963–69 Match Game Herself 53 episodes
1963–75 You Don't Say! Herself 10 episodes
1968 That's Life Episode: "Buying a House"
1969 Petticoat Junction Adelle Colby Episode: "The Cannonball Bookmobile"
1971 The Pet Set Herself 31 episodes
1972 O'Hara, U.S. Treasury Herself Episode: "Operation: Lady Luck"
1972 The Odd Couple Herself Episode: "Password"
1975 Lucas Tanner Lydia Merrick Episode: "The Noise of a Quiet Weekend"
1975 Ellery Queen Louise Demery Episode: "The Adventure of Miss Aggie's Farewell Performance"
1975–78 The Carol Burnett Show Various 3 episodes
1976–77 The Sonny and Cher Show Herself 2 episodes
1973–77 The Mary Tyler Moore Show Sue Ann Nivens Series regular, 46 episodes
1977–78 The Betty White Show Joyce Whitman Series regular, 14 episodes
1978 The Hanna-Barbera Happy Hour Voice Teacher 1 episode
1979–82 Password Plus Herself 25 episodes
1981 Best of the West Episode: "Mail Order Bride"
1982–91 The $25,000 Pyramid Herself 85 episodes
1982 Love, Sidney Charlotte Episode: "Charlotte's Web"
1983 Just Men! Herself 65 episodes
1983 Fame Catherine Episode: "Sunshine Again"
1984 Hotel Wilma Klein Episode: "Outsiders"
1985 St. Elsewhere Capt. Gloria Neal Episodes: "Red, White, Black and Blue" and "Close Encounters"
1980–85 The Love Boat Various 5 episodes
1985 Who's the Boss? Bobby Barnes Episodes: "Eye on Angela" and "Thanksgiving at Mrs. Rossini's"
Mama's Family Ellen Harper Jackson Series regular, 15 episodes
1988 Santa Barbara Cameo 3 episodes
1988 Another World Brenda Barlowe Special Guest Star
1990 Carol & Company Trisha Durant Episode: "Trisha Springs Eternal"
1991 Nurses Rose Nylund Episode: "Begone with the Wind"
1989–92 Empty Nest Rose Nylund 3 episodes
1985–92 The Golden Girls Rose Nylund Series regular, 177 episodes
1992–93 The Golden Palace Rose Nylund Series regular, 24 episodes
1993 Bob Sylvia Schmidt Series regular, 8 episodes
1994 Diagnosis Murder Dora Sloan Episode: "Death by Extermination"
1995 The Naked Truth Herself Episodes: "Elvis Is Coming!" and "Star and Comet Collide! Giant Bugs Invade!"
1995–96 Maybe This Time Shirley Wallace Series regular, 18 episodes
1996 Suddenly Susan Midge Haber Episode: "Golden Girl Friday"
1998 The Lionhearts Dorothy (voice) 5 episodes
1998 L.A. Doctors Mrs. Brooks Episode: "Leap of Faith"
1999 Hercules Hestia (voice) Episode: "Hercules and the Tiff on Olympus"
1999 Ally McBeal Dr. Shirley Flott Episode: "Seeing Green"
2000 The Wild Thornberrys Sophie Hunter (voice) 3 episodes
1999–2001 Ladies Man Mitzi Stiles Series regular, 30 episodes
2001 The Ellen Show Connie Gibson Episode: "Missing the Bus"
2002 Teacher's Pet Granny (voice) Episode: "The Turkey That Came for Dinner"
2002 Yes, Dear Sylvia Episode: "Kim's New Nanny"
2002 Providence Julianna Episode: "The Heart of the Matter"
1999–2002 King of the Hill Dorothy / Ellen / Delia (voice) 3 episodes
2002–03 That '70s Show Bea Sigurdson 4 episodes
2003 Grim & Evil Mrs. Doolin (voice) Episode: "Who Killed Who?/Tween Wolf"
2003 Gary the Rat Gary's Mother (voice) Episode: "This Is Not a Pipe"
2003 I'm with Her Herself Episode: "Meet the Parent"
2004 The Practice Catherine Piper 3 episodes
2003–04 Everwood Carol Roberts Episodes: "Unhappy Holidays" and "Your Future Awaits"
2004 My Wife and Kids Mrs. June Hopkins Episode: "The Maid"
2004 Malcolm in the Middle Sylvia Episode: "Victor's Other Family"
2004–05 Complete Savages Mrs. Riley Episodes: "The Man Without a Ball" and "Saving Old Lady Riley"
2005 Joey Margaret Bly Episode: "Joey and the House"
2007 Higglytown Heroes Grandma (voice) Episode: Calling All Heroes
2007 Ugly Betty Herself Episode: "Bananas for Betty"
2005–08 Boston Legal Catherine Piper 16 episodes
2006 My Name Is Earl Mrs. Weezmer Episode: "The Witch Lady"
2009 30 Rock Herself Episode: "Stone Mountain"
2006–09 The Bold and the Beautiful Ann Douglas Special guest star, 23 episodes
2010 The Middle Mrs. Nethercott Episode: "Average Rules"
2010 Saturday Night Live Herself Episode: "Betty White/Jay-Z"
2010–present Hot in Cleveland Elka Ostrovsky Series regular, 100+ episodes
2009–10 Glenn Martin DDS Grandma Shelia Martin (voice) 2 episodes
2010 Community Professor June Bauer Episodes: "Anthropology 101" and "The Psychology of Letting Go"
2012–present Betty White's Off Their Rockers Herself
2012 The Client List Ruth Hudson Episode: "Past Is Prologue"
2013 Save Me God Episode: "Holier Than Thou"
2010–13 Pound Puppies Agatha McLeish (voice) 13 episodes
2014 The Soul Man Elka Ostrovsky Episode: "All the Way Live"
2014 Adventure Time Mrs. Claus Episode: "Christmas Time"
2015 Saturday Night Live Grandmother The Californians
2015–present Betty White's Smartest Animals in America Herself Host


  • 1983: Betty White's Pet-Love: How Pets Take Care of Us
  • 1987: Betty White In Person
  • 1991: The Leading Lady: Dinah's Story
  • 1995: Here We Go Again: My Life In Television
  • 2008: Together: A Novel of shared vision
  • 2011: If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won't)
  • 2011: Betty & Friends: My Life at the Zoo


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Further reading

  • Tucker, David C. The Women Who Made Television Funny: Ten Stars of 1950s Sitcoms. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2007.

External links

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