Betty White,  you continue to make us laugh, and you still have that “vim” and “vigor” that causes you to “kick butt” when you think it’s appropriate.  Thank you for so many years of giving us your sanity and light approach to life.  Happy 91st Birthday!

Betty Marion White Ludden was born January 17, 1922 in Oak Park, Illinois.  Her family moved to California during the depression and White graduated from Beverly Hills High School.  She began her television career  in 1939 three months after her high school graduation on an experimental television station (this was the VERY early days of television).   She also earned money modeling during this time.  When the United States entered World War II her career was disrupted and White joined the American Women’s Voluntary Service.

In the 1940’s White worked in radio, and even got her own show, “The Betty White Show”.  In 1949, she began co-hosting a television show, “Hollywood on Television”, and in 1952 she commenced hosting the show alone, something she did 5 ½ hours a day (live “ad-lib”), 6 days a week, for four years.  Also in 1952 White co-founded Bandy Productions and, with her partners, created the television comedy “Life with Elizabeth”.  White portrayed the title character from 1952 to 1955.  In 1954 she briefly hosted her own daily talk show, The Betty White Show”.

White made her movie debut in 1962 in “Advice and Consent”.   This was her only movie part for several decades.

During the 1950’s and 1960’s White appeared on many talk and game show, including “Password”.   In 1963 she married the show’s host Allen Ludden.

From 1973 to 1977, White was a member of the cast of the “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”.  She played the man-hungry Sue Ann Nivens, “The Happy Homemaker”.  When the show ended in 1977, White was given her own show, “The Betty White Show”; it was cancelled after only one season.  She continued to appear regularly on other television shows such as “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson”.

In 1983, White became the first woman to win Daytime Emmy Award for the category of Outstanding Game Show Host for “Just Men!”.  White also continued to appear on several television sitcoms.

In 1985, White began a seven year career playing Rose Nylund in “The Golden Girls”.  She won an Emmy Award for “Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series” during the show’s first season, and was nominated for an Emmy every year of that show’s run.  Since the show’s ending in 1992, White has appeared regularly in numerous television appearances, including joining the cast in the soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful”.

White has worked tirelessly for various animal health and rights groups.  She has been on the Board of Directors of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association since 1974.

White has won seven Emmy Awards, three American Comedy Awards, and two Viewers for Television Quality Awards.  In 1995 she was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.  She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  She has won numerous other awards.

A 2011 Reuter’s poll showed White to be the most trusted popular celebrity among Americans.  In 2012 White won a Grammy for the audio version of one of her books.

What is next, Betty White?  We can’t wait!  Happy Birthday!

–Nancy Campbell Mead


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