TV pioneer and Emmy winner Betty White dies at 99 – Canon City Daily Record

By Valerie J. Nelson and Claudia Luther
Los Angeles Times


LOS ANGELES — Betty White, television pioneer and Emmy-winning actress whose long career, often in comedic roles, reignited in the late ’80s, has died.

White, who was the last surviving star of the television series “The Golden Girls,” died overnight in Brentwood, his friend and agent Jeff Witjas told The Washington Post. She was 99 years old.

For decades, White was best known for the characters she played in a pair of long-running TV series — conniving “Happy Housewife” Sue Ann Nivens on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” in the 1970s and daffy Rose Nylund on “The Golden Girls” in the 1980s and early 1990s. She received Emmys for both roles.
But a film part that steals the stage as the goofy grandmother in the summer 2009 hit “The Proposal,” and a series of television appearances that followed helped her become the comedian of America’s favorite job in her 80s and beyond.

‘I’m not new to live TV,’ White, 88, recalled to America on ‘Saturday Night Live’ as she became the oldest person to host the late-night comedy show , in May 2010. She recalled that she had starred in a sitcom, “Life With Elizabeth”, which aired live from 1953 to 1955.

“Of course at the time we didn’t want to do it live,” she said. “We just didn’t know how to record things.” Next, a perfectly timed beat and the punchline: “So, I don’t know what this show’s excuse is.”

Her Emmy-winning turn as host of ‘Saturday Night Live’ was the result of a Facebook campaign that began after she appeared in an irreverent Snickers ad that debuted during the Super Bowl. 2010.

In the commercial, she is beaten in a pick-up football game when a player whispers, “You play like Betty White over there!”

“That’s not what your girlfriend says,” she retorts, playing on her sweet and salty image.

Since 2010, she had starred as a grumpy but cheeky cleaning lady in a sitcom for TV Land, “Hot in Cleveland,” a role she embraced at age 88 and a half. She then released her third memoir and hosted NBC’s “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers,” a hidden-camera show featuring aged pranksters. In 2018, when PBS announced that it was preparing a documentary about White, she found herself trending on Twitter.

At an age when most actors have settled into retirement, White was suddenly the guest star of television.

“It’s so ridiculous at my age to have all that,” White told The Times in 2010. “I love it.”

In the early days of television, White was a rarity — a woman who had creative control in front of and behind the camera, according to the Paley Center for Media.

Three years after appearing in a television transmission test in 1949, White formed a company, Bandy Productions, which produced his syndicated early 1950s sitcom “Life With Elizabeth” and the short-lived domestic comedy that followed on ABC, “Date with the Angels”. ”

Frustrated by her early experiences with television series, White turned to a then-popular genre, game shows, and was a regular on hits such as “Match Game PM” and “Password,” hosted by Allen Ludden, which she married in 1963.

She was also a frequent and quoted presence on talk shows ranging from Jack Paar’s 1950s late-night program to “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” in 2011 and again in 2015.

During her previous appearance on Kimmel, the host asked White who drove her to the studio. She said she conducted herself on set.

“I’ve been driving since I was 4 years old. No no no. It was something else,” she told Kimmel. “That’s where I lost my virginity.”

Recognized in early 2010 with a Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award, White called the honor the “highlight” of her professional life – and peppered her speech with bawdy asides.

Although her career enjoyed a resurgence, it never really went away after “The Golden Girls” left the air in 1992 after seven years.

She appeared regularly on television shows and had recurring roles in a number of them, including – in the 80s – “Boston Legal” and the soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful”.

When she starred as a slightly crazy version of herself on “The John Larroquette Show,” White won another Emmy, in 1996.

“Betty White has logged more hours on television, I think, than any other human being,” her longtime friend Mary Tyler Moore said in a 2001 interview.

With her bright blue eyes, dimpled cheeks and broad smile framed by a heart-shaped face, White was often cast as a mild-tempered sparring partner in many national comedies — a guy she later slyly went up against. starred in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”. on CBS.

In 1973, she was hired for a one-time appearance as sex-crazed cooking show host Sue Ann on the fourth season of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” She remained until 1977, the rest of the series.

“She created one of the great television characters in sitcom history,” Moore said during a 90th birthday tribute to White that aired in January on NBC.

When Moore passed away in early 2017, White said she considered her time with the late actress and others on the sitcom “the best times of my life.”

Ed Asner, who co-starred on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” told The Times in 1999 that White thrived as a comedic actress because she “had a devilish sense of humor” and went to great lengths to extract humor from “the simplest of statements.

For White, portraying calculator Sue Ann “was like being born again,” she once told TV Guide.

When NBC debuted “The Golden Girls” in 1985, White portrayed the clueless but sweet Rose, one of four elderly single women who lived together in Miami on a show that was a long-running hit.

She was originally cast as the man-hungry Blanche Devereaux, with Rue McClanahan playing Rose. But Jay Sandrich, the veteran director of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” who helmed the pilot, worried viewers would think “she’s Sue Ann in another form,” White told The Times in 2009.

After the actresses switched roles, Sandrich advised White to play Rose not as dumb but as a naïve, confident foil to Blanche and the other two characters, Dorothy (Bea Arthur) and Dorothy’s mother, Sophia (Estelle Getty), whose slight kick hilariously went loose. his language.

Key to the exchanges was timing, “a rhythm that you kind of have to feel inside somewhere and, oddly enough, if you add an extra word or add an extra syllable, you’ll kill the laughter,” he said. White said. on national public radio in 1995.

White’s playful willingness to go against the grain was central to her long career, said Melissa Camacho, professor of television and media studies at San Francisco State University.

“You look at Betty White, and you don’t see age. She carries herself with such a youthful spark,” Camacho said in 2010 in the Calgary Herald. player.”

Betty Marion White was born January 17, 1922, in Oak Park, Illinois, the only child of Horace White, a traveling salesman and electrical engineer, and his wife, Tess. Her fun-loving parents nurtured her mind from an early age, White said.
As a child, she moved to Beverly Hills with her family and became interested in acting at Beverly Hills High School, where she graduated in 1939.

Professionally, she made her stage debut at the Bliss Hayden Little Theater in Beverly Hills and quickly moved on to radio and television.

In 1949, White co-hosted a local live television variety show with early television personality Al Jarvis that ran for over five hours a day, six days a week. The show, “Hollywood on TV,” included songs, sketches, and live commercials; she has already done 58 commercials in a single day.

It was “like going to television college,” White told The Times in 2010.

Over the years, she has also starred in several television programs called “The Betty White Show” – the first a 1950s variety show and the last a sitcom in 1977-78.

While on “Password,” she met the bespectacled, crew-cut Ludden, then a recent widower with three children. They were married for 18 years before Ludden died of cancer aged 63 in 1981. She never remarried.
Almost 20 years later, her eyes watered as she spoke about Ludden with a reporter at the cozy Brentwood home she had owned since 1968.

“I’ll never get over it,” she said. “He was fun, he was funny…”

His previous two brief marriages ended in divorce. One was for a WWII soldier who took her home to a chicken farm in Ohio — ‘a nightmare,’ she later said — and the other for Lane Allen, casting director for Universal Studios. She had no children.

Her two passions, she often said, were show business and animal activism.

Deeply committed to animal welfare, she served as President of the Morris Animal Foundation, which funds animal and wildlife health research and education. She was also a longtime administrator of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo.

She agreed to write her final memoir, “If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won’t)”, in part because the seven-figure publishing deal allowed her to write a second book for GP Putnam’s Sons on his love of zoos. She had already written two books on animals.

White has appeared in about 10 films, including as a grandmother in the 2010 Walt Disney Pictures comedy “You Again” with Kristen Bell and “The Proposal” with Sandra Bullock. In the latter, the Times reviewer called her performance “delightfully bizarre”. In 2019, she provided the voice of Bitey White, a toy tiger named after her, in “Toy Story 4”.

White preferred television because, as she once said, “You walk in, you do it, you see it, and then you move on.”

From 1970 to 1990, White hosted the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, primarily for NBC. She also hosted Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York City in the 1980s. In 2011, she won a Grammy Award for her audio recording of “If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won’t)”. In all, she won five Emmy Awards.

“To be able to spend your life in the business you love with the people you love and get by is just wonderful,” she said on her 90th birthday special. “I’m the luckiest old wide on two feet.”

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