Intimate Portrait

Season 6 Episode 6

Betty White

Aired Monday 7:00 PM Jan 01, 2000 on Lifetime
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Episode Summary

Betty White
Betty White: The Queen of Television From "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" to "Golden Girls," Betty White is a staple of American comedy. She's charmed television, film and radio audiences for nearly five decades.Here's a close-up look at a comedic talent. Although Betty White has often been dubbed "Queen of Television," this American icon was first radio royalty. Starting at just 16, White attended acting school (she skipped college to pursue her showbiz dream) and appeared on high-profile radio shows such as "Blondie," "The Great Gildersleeve" and "This Is Your FBI." Eventually, she landed her own radio show, aptly titled "The Betty White Show." But it wasn't until 1953, at the age of 29, that White made the leap to the medium for which we know her best: television. She starred in and produced the hit show "Life With Elizabeth," a sitcom that earned her the first of six Emmy Awards. That success led White to make her first of numerous game show appearances as the fill-in host for the iconic "What's My Line?" Soon she settled into a career of appearances on other game shows (including "Match Game") and Jack Paar's "The Tonight Show." But it was her frequent appearances on "Password" that changed her life. She caught the eye (and heart) of host Allen Ludden, and the two married. (Ludden passed away in 1981.) With game shows pretty much behind her, White appeared as a guest on the wildly popular "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." That guest role lead to the permanent spot of Sue Ann Nivens, the flirtatious "Happy Homemaker," earning her two more Emmy nods and a whole lot of fame. On a roll, she then appeared in episodes of "The Merv Griffin Show," "The Love Boat" and "Mama's Family." Then, in 1985, White earned her biggest kudos to date: a starring role in the long-running hit series, "The Golden Girls." For seven years, she played the scatterbrained Rose Nylund, a role that earned her an Emmy nomination every year the show was on the air until 1992. (She won the prize for Best Actress in a Comedy Series in 1987.) A recipient of the 1990 American Comedy Lifetime Achievement Award, White shows no signs of losing her penchant for making others laugh. She recently appeared in the movies "Lake Placid" and "The Story of Us." In 1996, she received yet another Emmy for her supporting role on "The John Larroquette Show." But White has a serious side, too. She has been a long-standing activist for animals' health and well-being and served for three years as president of the Morris Animal Foundation, a national research organization that strives to improve the health of both wild and domesticated animals. (One of the group's accomplishments is finding a vaccine for feline leukemia.) She has also created a TV series about celebrities' pets called "The Pet Set" and, in a move that hearkens back to the beginning of her acting career, a radio program called "Betty White on Animals." Just recently Betty filmed her role in Steve Martin's feature film "Bringing Down The HouZe."moreless

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