12 Interesting Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Betty White

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Betty White – 1954

Betty White is the grandmother we never had.  Or wished we did.  She is cooler than most people will ever be and at the age of 91, she seems poised to live forever.  Betty’s professional entertainment career now spans an astonishing 74 years, having started in 1939. During that span, she has continually reinvented herself in Hollywood and despite being well passed the age most actresses and actors disappear into obscurity is still going strong.  Without further ado, we give you 12 interesting facts about our sweet Betty, so you can show off your Betty White knowledge at the next party you attend.  Just don’t use them all at once.  That might come off a bit creepy.

1) White was one of the 1st female producers in Hollywood. 

In the 1950s, she produced her own television series called Life With Elizabeth alongside George Tibbles, and was one of the first to have creative control both behind and in front of the camera.

2) White and Rue McClanahan switched roles on The Golden Girls

White was originally considered for the role of the oversexed Blanche on The Golden Girls and  McClanahan was going to be Rose. The two were switched as the director thought it would be better for them to play different types of characters than the ones they had played previously; White played a Blanche-type character in Mary Tyler Moore and McClanahan played a Rose type character in Maude.   Despite being the oldest of The Golden Girls in real life, White is the only surviving character out of the four women who starred in that show, following the death of Rue McClanahan in June of 2010.

3) She lists her occupation on her resume as ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVIST first, not actress. 

White once said she has to continue working ‘so she can afford to keep doing her charity work!’  White is passionate about animals.  She has volunteered her time and money to many charities for four decades, including the Los Angeles Zoo.  In 1997, White even turned down the role of Helen Hunt’s mother in As Good As it Gets, because she didn’t agree with the treatment of the dog in the film.  Her love for furry creatures, particularly dogs, began when her father, who was a traveling salesman and electrical engineer, built kennels in their backyard, sometimes caring for as many as 15 dogs at a time.

4)Betty’ is not short for anything. 

It’s her real name.  Her parents gave her the name Betty out of fear that she would be called a derivative of Elizabeth, such as Liz, Beth or Lizzie.  So, Betty it is.

5) She tweets.

I tweet, you tweet, and now, so does Betty White.  Some of our grandmothers have never even logged on to the internet, but Betty now knows her way around twitter.  She tweets everything from plugs for TV appearances to messages to other celebs, including her third tweet ever to @RyanSeacrest:  ‘My show airs tomorrow and I hear we’re on in the same timeslot…I’ve always wanted to share a night with you.’  She certainly knows how to keep things interesting.  She also racked up 118,000 followers in the first 24 hours of creating an account.  Don’t confuse @BettyMWhite with @BettyFckinWhite, the latter of which existed first and parodies the actress.  If you’re not on twitter, to each his own, just know that Betty White has you beaten in the social media department.

6) She pours herself a pre-dinner cocktail.

White says a drink at night is relaxing, and she also makes time for a weekly poker night.  She’s a fan of hot dogs, and she won’t pass up French fries, though she did pass on the offer to do Broadway, saying the idea of Broadway performances just doesn’t sound appealing.  What else does White love?  Snakes!

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White and Husband Allen Ludden

7) She’s no stranger to weddings.

Betty was married 3 times to Dick Barker (pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps), Lane Allen (a Hollywood agent), and finally Allen Ludden.  She often appeared as a regular on game shows, including the show Password in 1961, where she met her third husband Allen Ludden.  The phrase ‘third time’s a charm’ turned out to be true in their case, as they remained married from 1963 until Ludden died from stomach cancer in 1981. White called Ludden the love of her life.  (Her first two marriages were short-lived, with the second lasting two years and the first ending after a mere five months.)

8) White holds the distinct honor of being the OLDEST person to host Saturday Night Live.

She didn’t want to do the show at first, calling it challenging.  It all started with a funny ad for a candy bar during the 2010 Super Bowl, which led to a Facebook campaign in support of White’s appearance on SNL.  She turned producer Lorne Michaels down three times before accepting the popular hosting gig.  She was 88 at the time, beating out Miskel Spillman who was 80 when she hosted the show in 1977 after winning the “Anyone Can Host” contest SNL was running at the time. White said SNL was the ‘scariest thing she’s ever done,’ despite previously having hosted a live ad-lib show six days per week for five and a half years, Hollywood on Television, starting in 1949.  White is loving her newfound success, and believes she is the ‘luckiest woman on two feet.’

 9) She won’t be watching an episode of Jersey Shore anytime soon. 

White has made it known in recent years that she is no fan of reality TV.  She hasn’t elaborated why, but it is safe to assume that her background in producing and writing conflicts with the fame that some random people with no talent are finding by merely taping their lives and, often, acting like morons.  Ironically, White now hosts something of a reality TV show, Betty White’s Off Their Rockers where old people prank the young.

10) She has gone under the knife. 

You wouldn’t think that sweet Betty would care to slow down the aging process, but she has admitted to some surgery prior to The Golden Girls.   Ironically, the show was about growing old and embracing it.

11) White has no biological children of her own.

Her third husband, Allen Ludden, did have 3 children, and White says she is blessed to still have her stepchildren in her life.

12) White is the oldest person to have been nominated for an Emmy.

She currently holds the record as the oldest person to be nominated for an Emmy, nominated at the age of 90 in 2012 for “Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program” for Betty White’s Off Their Rockers.  She also holds the record for the longest span between her first Emmy nomination (for actual performances) and her last (with 16 in between) at 61 years (first in 1951 and the most recent to date in 2012).

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