The End of an Era - Betty White Dies at 99
To end 2021 on a somber note, yesterday TMZ and People reported the death of Icon Betty White, weeks prior to her centennial year. Born to Horace White and Tess Curt on January 17th ,1922 White had aspirations of being a Forest Ranger as she loved being around animals camping with her family in the Sierra Nevadas. She fell in love with entertaining obtaining the lead role in her senior play. Taking risks White skipped college and pursued a career in radio.
After her divorce from Dick Barker she met L.A disk Jockey Al Jarvis in which the took the entertainment world by a storm being in numerous game shows eventually landing the role on her first sitcom Life with Elizabeth. Starring White and Del Moore the show was based on a character White had played on her earlier talk show Hollywood on Television.
In 1951, Betty was nominated for her role as Elizabeth for the Emmy's for best actress competing against Judith Anderson, Helen Hayes, and Imogene Coca. Making her one of the first women to be nominated for a category designated for women on live television. Her journey on Life with Elizabeth left her with continuing accolades becoming one of the few women to have creative control both on and off the camera.
White has been ahead of the times standing up for the rights for African Americans, in 1954 after the decision of Brown vs The Board of Ed had been adjourned White tells the world to "Live With It" after having a young Arthur Duncan make an appearance on the Betty White Show, causing an uproar from critics and executives combined. She continued to push the envelope by having him appear three more times through the run of the show, one of them to interview a young black child during the kids segment. According to MSN it is unclear if Duncan's appearances was the cause of the cancellation of the show, however there were "scheduling conflicts" when planning the slot for the show ultimately leading to the cancellation.
The 1960's changed Whites life forever as she made appearances on game shows and late night talk shows such as The Johnny Carson Era of the Tonight Show, as well as Password where she met the love of her life Allen Ludden. In 1973 she made appearances on the Mary Tyler Moore Show as Sue Ann Nivens securing her second and third Emmy awards. The role of Sue Ann was made after the departure of Valerie Harper, as White and Moore were great friends and have great chemistry together despite the hesitations of the network. She received her roses once again in 1983 being the first woman to receive a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host making her the First Lady of Game Show Hosts.
1985 was the year for Betty White as she joined the cast of a sitcom that became a cultural phenomenon. Alongside Bea Arthur, Estelle Getty and Rue Mclanahan Golden Girls depicted the lives of four mature women living their lives in Miami Florida. The four women encountered their trials and tribulations of love, death, heartbreak and cheesecake. In an interview with The New York Times White showed us that Art imitates life.
"A couple of speeches Rose makes get me by the throat. All I have to do is substitute 'Allen' for 'Charlie,' Rose's husband."
White's husband , legendary game show host Allen Ludden had passed away in 1981 from stomach cancer after 18 years of marriage. The industry knew them as the It Couple for their time, that was the Love of her life as she never remarried. She used the emotions of losing Ludden in channelling her own understanding into the Rose character. Originally White was casted for the role of Blanche and Mclanahan was casted for Rose based off their past characters. With persuasion from director Jay Sandrich who suggested they switch the roles and the rest became history.
After the shows finale in 1992 White continued to work in the Talk / Game Show circuit , working the short lived spin off The Golden Palace. She continued to roles in TV and Soap Operas such as Bold and The Beautiful and Movies along side Ryan Renolds in the Proposal . In 2010 she received her third memorable role as Elka Otravsky alongside Jane Leeves, Valerie Bertinelli, and Wendie Malick on Hot in Cleveland. The role landed her Three Screen Actors Guild Awards winning 2 of them between 2011-2013. Throughout her 70 year career she has been nominated for 21 Prime Time Emmy's with a total of five wins. She is the only person to have an entire population on a website to be requested to go on Saturday Night Live making it one of their most memorable episodes. It was a visual representation of White passing the torch to the next generation of comedians.
Betty White was and will continue to be an icon, a inspiration for women in the industry and will be forever missed.
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