Currently enjoying an Indian summer in entertainment, Betty White persists as one of the legendary and longest-working figures in comedy. Her work on classic sitcoms such as "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "The Golden Girls" cemented her reputation as a comic tour de force. As of summer 2011, the soon-to-be nonagenarian owns a career filled with little-known yet salient details.
Many fans of Betty White's most significant work may not know the rich start to her life in entertainment. She was born on January 17, 1922, in Oak Park, Illinois, and was an only child. At age 2, she and her family moved to Los Angeles. Her first significant Hollywood job came in 1949, playing a phone girl on a radio show hosted by Al Jarvis. "Life with Elizabeth," "The United States Steel Hour" and "Petticoat Junction" were the first television programs in which she starred.
This comedienne has enjoyed bountiful prizes throughout her career. She won her first Emmy in 1951 for "Life with Elizabeth," a show that she also created through Bandy Productions, the production company she co-founded. Two consecutive Emmys in 1975 and 1976 came her way for her work on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." White received a hosting Emmy for the game show "Just Men" in 1983, the first woman to claim the laurel. She earned a lead comedy actress Emmy for "The Golden Girls" in 1986. Producers originally approached her to play Blanche Devereaux, not Rose Nylund, on the show. Ten years later she won for guesting as herself on "The John Larroquette Show." More recently, her "Saturday Night Live" hosting turn garnered TV's top honor in 2010.
Other Notable Appearances
Betty White's domination of comedic television is well-known; there are fewer reports of her performances in other mediums. She turned in an acclaimed three-year stint on the soap opera "The Bold and the Beautiful" (2006 to 2009); her work on "Boston Legal" (2005 to 2008) earned praise as well. She has also demonstrated her excellence on film. Noteworthy cinematic appearances include "Bringing Down the House" (2003) and "Lake Placid" (1999).
White has married three times. Her first husband was Dick Barker, a pilot in the World War I. A relationship with entertainment agent Lane Allen followed. But the third time was the charm for the 5-foot 4-inch star. She cites Allen Ludden, the TV game show host, as the true love of her life. The marriage lasted from 1963 to 1981, when Ludden died. White has also earned renown for her charity work focused on the well-being of animals, predominantly via a three-decade commitment to the Morris Animal Foundation.