My “relationship” with Betty White started when I was still in grade school. Betty was one of the “celebrity” panelists on What’s My Line?, To Tell The Truth, and I‘ve Got A Secret, game shows popular in the 60’s on daytime television. I used to love watching those shows as a kid. She played the “dumb blonde” on the panel, except you could tell from her narrative that she was anything but dumb. A guest spot on The Mary Tyler Moore Show turned into a regular bit, and she was a part of the cast on Mama’s Family. The list of shows she appeared on as a guest star over the years fills pages and pages.
Fast forward to the 80’s. Now Betty has joined three legendary ladies on The Golden Girls. It turns out to be one of the most beloved TV shows of all time, and can still be seen every day on cable stations. At that point, most people would have taken the money and called it a career. Not Betty.
She’s 91 years young these days and the only surviving Golden Girl. But she isn’t just surviving these days, as I found out the other night. I was channel surfing and came across Off Their Rockers, Betty’s latest reincarnation. If you haven’t yet seen the show (now in it’s second season on NBC, with reruns on Lifetime, which is where I found it) it stars Betty and a cast of senior friends, pulling pranks on younger people. I haven’t laughed so hard at a TV show in years. It wasn’t just funny, it was hysterical. Guest stars like Howie Mandel and Ed Asner are appearing in the new season. Betty serves as the host, as her “posse” executes the cleverly created pranks. Just goes to show innocent little old ladies (and men) might not always be as innocent as they look!
Betty White has become a symbol of perseverance and success. Her new show earned her an Emmy nomination in its first year, and there is no sign the lady who has been in show business since three months after her high school graduation plans on wrapping it up anytime soon. Her formal TV career spans seven decades and is the longest in history.
Betty White is her real name. She was born Betty Marion White in Oak Park, Illinois, in 1922. She is, without any doubt, a true American treasure, still making us laugh. There have been three husbands, the last of which was Alan Ludden, the game show host, who passed in 1981. There’s a star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood, and Emmy and other awards all the way back to 1951.
If you find yourself at home some evening with nothing to do, check out Off Their Rockers. I suspect, like me, you will not only chuckle a few times, you will recognize a lady who is worthy of the notoriety coming her way. From the hostess of the Rose Parade with Bonanza’s Loreen Green (Does that take you back a few years?) to her current cast of misfits, she has done something very few people are able to do. She is saving the best for last. Just thinking about her makes me smile. What a compliment. You go, Betty. You are truly America’s Golden Girl.