January 17, 1922 in Oak Park, Illinois
Betty White was married three times: briefly to pilot Dick Barker and to Hollywood agent Lane Allen, and to TV personality Allen Ludden from 1963 until his death in 1981.
Betty White’s Early Career:
Betty White started out as a model and radio host in the 1940s, and then moved from hosting her own radio show to hosting TV shows in the 1950s. White’s first sitcom role was as the star of Life With Elizabeth, which ran in syndication from 1953-1955. She also starred in another short-lived sitcom, Date With the Angels (1957-1958). In the 1950s, White began a long career as a popular guest and panelist on game shows including Password, What’s My Line?, To Tell the Truth, The Match Game, Pyramid and more. She also won an Emmy for hosting the game show Just Men!
‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’:
In 1973, White made a guest appearance on the CBS newsroom sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show as Sue Ann Nivens, “The Happy Homemaker,” the seemingly sweet host of a home and crafts TV show, who was actually quite mean and promiscuous. White was later promoted to a series regular, and was a member of the cast until the show’s end in 1977. She won two Emmys for her role as Sue Ann, and scored her own CBS sitcom, The Betty White Show, after Mary Tyler Moore ended, although it only lasted for one season.
‘The Golden Girls’:
In 1985 White was cast in the NBC sitcom The Golden Girls
, about four retired women living together in Florida. Rue McClanahan, Bea Arthur and Estelle Getty also starred on the show, in which White played Rose Nylund, the sweet and somewhat dim Minnesota native with a penchant for telling long, rambling stories. The Golden Girls
proved extremely popular, and White was nominated for Emmys in each of its seven seasons, and won in 1985. After the show’s end in 1992, White, McClanahan and Getty reprised their roles in the spin-off The Golden Palace
, which lasted only one season.
After the end of The Golden Palace
, White continued working regularly as a TV guest star, appearing on dozens of shows including Ally McBeal
, Malcolm in the Middle
, Suddenly Susan
, Yes, Dear
and more. She was nominated for several Emmys as a guest actress, and won for her appearance on The John Larroquette Show
in 1996. White also played supporting roles in numerous films, including Lake Placid
, Bringing Down the House
and The Proposal
The Betty White Renaissance:
Starting with her recurring role as gossipy schemer Catherine Piper on Boston Legal
from 2004-2008, White experienced a pop-culture renaissance in the 2000s, with the continued popularity of reruns of The Golden Girls
and White’s constant willingness to poke fun at herself. Thanks to her never-ending ubiquity as a talk-show guest and game-show panelist, White has amassed fans across generations, and in 2010 she had her first turn as host of Saturday Night Live
thanks to an online fan-activism campaign. Also in 2010, she returned to sitcoms as a regular cast member with the TV Land comedy Hot in Cleveland
Notable TV & Movie Roles: