It’s Betty White’s 99th Birthday & to Celebrate, Here Are 10 TV Moments We Love
It’s Betty White‘s birthday, and the firecracker actor and animal rights activist, who’s been entertaining us for some 80 (80!) years, has pandemic-appropriate plans: She reportedly will spend her special day quarantining and feeding the two ducks who “visit” her every day.
Perhaps they know 2021 also marks the 50th anniversary of her 1971 syndicated series The Pet Set, in which the notorious animal lover chatted with guests such as Carol Burnett, Mary Tyler Moore, James Stewart and Burt Reynolds alongside their furry companions. It’ll be a big anniversary, and not just in years: The 39-episode series makes its DVD and digital platform debut on February 23.
“If I haven’t told you already, I will now: The Pet Set is one of my favorite shows,” White said in the announcement. “I’m thrilled it’s going to be seen again after all these years.”
As the world appreciates its “Golden Girl” today — and every day — we revisit 10 TV moments featuring White that always bring us joy.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1974)
Ted Baxter (Ted Knight) patronizes White’s Sue Ann Nivens before she begins an audition for “News with a Woman’s Point of View.” She claps back with, “I know what I’m doing. Just cue me and stick a sock in it.” She then begins to read serious news in a cheerful tone with Suzy Homemaker takes. Just one example why White took home two Emmys for the role.
The Carol Burnett Show (1978)
This episode sees White’s Ellen Harper-Jackson trying to rush Mama Thelma (Vicki Lawrence) and sister Eunice (Carol Burnett) out of the house before her dinner party guests arrive. But not before Mama presents some cheap cologne as a wedding anniversary gift, which the snobbish Ellen doesn’t really appreciate. Then, when Mama goes upstairs, the two sisters begin to argue about Ellen sharing the responsibility of Mama with Eunice. Despite Ellen’s clear disdain for her family members, Mama still considers her the favorite child. Seeing the three together is a great trip down memory lane.
The Golden Girls (1985-1992)
White’s Rose Nylund revealed her husband Charlie died of a heart attack while the two were canoodling. This gave her a fear of intimacy, which only got worse when another man, Al, died in a similar way. She eventually gets over the trauma with boyfriend Arnie. So much so that she tells a joke that doesn’t go over too well with Blanche (Rue McClanahan) and Dorothy (Bea Arthur) as seen above.
The Golden Girls
She’s so good in the show, we hav to do more. And because there are too many classic Rose Nylund stories about St. Olaf, her hometown, to choose from, have a look at the best of them, curated by TV Land.
Super Password (1988)
White was a regular fixture on the game show circuit for decades, including the many incarnations of Password (where she met her late husband, host Allen Ludden). Toward the end of Super Password’s final run, she appeared alongside familiar faces Carol Channing, Dick Martin, and Lucille Ball in what would be one of the I Love Lucy star’s final TV outings. Ball is stumped on the word “stiff” and gets the buzzer. White’s words of advice: “You don’t buzz a legend.” Damn straight.
Betty White Snickers Commercial (2010)
Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints may have been victorious on the field, but it was White who was the real winner of Super Bowl XLIV with her Snickers commercial. Audiences couldn’t stop talking about the visual of White (Mike) playing tackle football. Already riding high after the success of the film The Proposal, this appearance was another touchdown.
Hot in Cleveland (2014)
White returned to her sitcom roots on a regular basis for TV Land’s Hot in Cleveland, starring as the Polish Elka Ostrovsky. Who could forget those prime zingers on Joy Scroggs (Jane Leeves)? Then there were the episodes where famous friends, like the late Joan Rivers, above, came to play. White and Rivers are long lost twin sisters trying to remember the origins of their rift. Two masters at work.
WWE Raw (2014)
Perhaps a hidden gem on the list. White made the most of her time on WWE Raw as a guest host in 2014. When she walked out with the 7-foot Big Show, the live crowd gave her a reception worthy of a legend. At one point, the wrestler asked what her plans were for the night. Her response: “I’m going to kick some ass.”
Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special (2015)
White joined an incredible collection of talent for a special installment of the soap opera spoof “The Californians.” Even Kerry Washington and Taylor Swift got in on the festivities. However, it was White’s make-out session with pool boy Craig (Bradley Cooper) that got all the attention. If there is anyone who proves age is but a number, it’s her.
70th Emmy Awards: A Celebration of Betty White (2018)
More than four decades after receiving her first Emmy in 1975, White took the stage and was met with a standing ovation from peers in the audience. She was introduced by Kate McKinnon and Alec Baldwin, who called her the greatest of all time. Bow down. We are not worthy.