Why We Loved Betty White & How She Made Us Feel Younger
We lost an icon on New Year's Eve at age 99
So what if you just turned 30, or 40, or 50, etc. If you sit and complain about getting older, Betty White could have easily turned to you and said, blah, blah, blah…zip it. Her attitude, drive, and wit always made me wonder what she would accomplish by her next birthday.
Betty would have been 100 on January 17, 2022. Maybe we should all be looking at what we hope to accomplish by our next birthday.
Betty's Younger Years
Betty White was born in Oak Park, Illinois on January 17, 1922, and is 99 years old! She was in show business since before I was born. She had a very interesting life and possessed a great outlook on life as demonstrated through her sense of humor (I remember when she celebrated her 90th birthday). We should all hope to be as fortunate with both longevity and level of productivity.
Growing up, Betty was an only child. Her father, Horace, was an electrical engineer and her mother, Tess, was a homemaker. When Betty was still a toddler, her family moved to California.
Betty was also an animal rights activist and for many of us who have seen photos or interviews of her over the years even prior to losing her husband, Allen Ludden, it's apparent she is devoted to her passion for animals. For over 40 years, she had been involved with the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association and the Morris Animal Foundation (President Emeriti). Betty had been a member of the American Humane Association for over 60 years. In 2012, she received the National Humanitarian Medial and Legacy Award because she's a tireless and devoted animal advocate.
"I got involved with this terrific charity 60 years ago because of our shared commitment to the welfare of animals." - Betty White
Betty, the wife
Betty was married three times, although she was married to the love of her life with her third husband, the late Allen Ludden, who was the popular game show host of Password. Betty and Allen met when she was a guest on Password in 1961. They married in 1963 and were together for 18 years until he unexpectedly died in 1981 from stomach cancer. Allen's passing was just three days from their 18th wedding anniversary.
Betty, the author
Betty is also the author of several books listed below:
- Betty White In Person (1987)
- Here We Go Again: My Life in Television (1995; re-released in 2010)
- If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won't) (2011)
- The Zoo and I: Betty and Her Friends (2012)
Betty's popular roles on television
Betty started her career working in local television. She would have appearances on sitcoms and game show programming. Many of us, however, will best remember her for her roles on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Golden Girls. Her character on The Mary Tyler Moore Show was Sue Ann Nivens where her audience was able to witness her own personal style of humor alongside her smiling eyes. Betty's performances on this show that began in 1970 would land her two Emmy awards.
Betty's role on The Golden Girls, my mom's favorite show, would reveal a different character by the name of Rose. Her audience was either endeared or annoyed with how naïve she was, but regardless, her wit brought laughter. I think this show's popularity was due to the fact it was based on the friendships and relationships of four older women (including actresses, Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty). Older people in the viewing audience had a program they could relate to. This show would earn yet another Emmy award for Betty.
In 1992, The Golden Girls was concluding its long run on television. Betty continued to have guest-starring roles on television and in 2009, she had a supporting role in a romantic comedy movie entitled, Proposal, which was a delightful mix of acting styles including that of Sandra Bullock. I enjoyed this movie and am a Bullock fan.
Then, all of a sudden, a popularity pow reached Betty's life again. There was an ad that was run during the Super Bowl game in 2010 (you remember the one, right?) and it was Betty's style of humor that gained so much attention. People who saw the candy ad were still talking about it the next day and people who didn't see the game were hearing about it from others.
Continuing on, a man from San Antonio began a campaign on Facebook to have Betty host Saturday Night Live, and thousands of people responded making this request a reality. Although Betty made statements about how nervous she was with this adventure, she pulled it off. Then another campaign ran on Facebook to get Betty to host the Oscars. Betty also began another sitcom in 2010, Hot in Cleveland also starring Valerie Bertinelli.
Betty's mature years
Hats off to Betty for her long career that amazed so many of us, including herself. She celebrated her 90th birthday on television and she was laughing, and influencing us all with the value of wit, being positive, and being involved and active. Let's face it, she was funny!
What Betty exemplified includes lessons for us all regardless of age. Keep reaching for positive experiences in your life. Keep laughing, including at yourself. Life can only be as amazing as you drive it to be. Don't let age ever be a hang-up on your choices nor your ability to generate opportunities for more choices.
Attitude gives rise to a good many things. Rest in peace, Betty. You were magnificent.
© Cathy Coombs