Sunday, May 9, 2010
Amazing Betty White
Will somebody out there explain to me why it took so long for the great Betty White to headline Satursay Night Live?
And why at 88 this lady remains asfresh and funny as ever.
So when and where did I first meet Betty White?
It had to be at one of those mass star parties MTM Studios would hold every year for visiting TV critics.
And I had a long talk with Betty who had just joined the cast as sex maniac Sue Anne Nivens --and boy was she hilarious (she replaced Cloris Leachman whose character Phyllis was spun off into her own series).
That would be 1973 or even 1974, I'm guessing.
Betty let put a whoop of joy when I told her that as a kid I'd always liked her ABC sitcom Date With the Angels (1957-58) but admitted "My co-star was the cowboy actor Bill Williams and he didn't have a stitch of comedy timing."
Decades seemed to fly by and then I was on the set of Golden Girls in 1986 interviewing Bea Arthur.
Betty remembered me --or so she said --and told me she'd had her pick of either the character of Blanche or Rose. "Blanche is the nympho and I'd already played her type with Mary so I chose Rose."
I have to admit I declined invitations to go on the set of the ill-advised sequel Golden Palace which only lasted the 1992-93 season.
Arthur had wisely retired but co-stars White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty persevered for a one season wonder.
Some time in there I had dinner with White in T.O. out at the Prince hotel --she was in T.O. promoting her autobiography and I was astonished given her love of pets that she ate steak for dinner.
"Some of my best friends are carnivores," she joked as she gnawed on a T-bone.
I also liked Betty in all her game show appearances (especially on Password) and in those sketches she did with Johnny Carson on the old Tonight Show. Remember?
And Betty has just kept going. Two of her GG co-stars (Arrthur and Getty) have passed and McClanahan is ill but White continues to go out there and wow 'em.
On this week's SNL she was in every skit surrounded with such alumnas as Molly Shannon, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and the result was the highest rating for SNL in 18 months.
So my question is simply this: isn't it about time Betty White gets her own show?