Comedian Betty White was one of the first women in television to garner creative control in front of the camera and behind when she starred in and co-produced the nationally syndicated situation comedy, “Life with Elizabeth.”
The comedy only lasted for a few seasons, but it resulted in White’s first Emmy® Award and fueled a long and successful career.
White’s ability to think quickly and work in extemporaneous comic situations served her well on the small screen as a guest on game shows such as “To Tell the Truth” and “Password.”
In 1963, White married “Password” host Allen Ludden, and the two received a memorable wedding gift from an old friend. “When Allen Ludden and I were married — we met on ‘Password’ … and we couldn’t take a honeymoon because he was due back on [the show]. And as a wedding present, Jack Paar came on as a guest. … Bless his heart. They had always wanted him to come on as a guest, and he wouldn’t. But as a wedding present he [came on ‘Password’] as the opposing player. That was fun,” says White.
“Do you realize what privileges those are to have things like that happen? I think sometimes, I mean, I’m the luckiest old broad on two feet to get chances to do that, and I treasure them.”
In 1983 she hosted her own game show, NBC’s “Just Men!”, but the actress gained real traction when she landed the role of Sue Ann Nivens on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” on CBS. The role was memorable, and she soon scored other comedic gigs on the small screen, including a running appearance on “The Carol Burnett Show” and “Mama’s Family.”
Betty White’s Golden Career
In 1985, White scored another plum television role as Rose Nylund on “The Golden Girls,” opposite Rue McClanahan, Estelle Getty and Beatrice Arthur. Originally, White had been cast as the man-hungry roommate Blanche Dubois, but the director suggested that McClanahan and White switch roles. Instead, White played the role of Rose, a roommate whose naïveté often made her the butt of the jokes. The show was a hit, and so was White.
In recent years, White has become more popular than ever, scoring guest roles in many popular sitcoms, including “30 Rock,” “Community” and “Saturday Night Live.”