R.I.P. Betty White, the TV legend whose career spanned eight decades
The Mary Tyler Moore and Golden Girls star died at 99.
Join us for MeTV's tribute with select episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mama’s Family and The Love Boat on Sunday, January 9th from 2-6pm ET/PT. Details below article.
Weeks before her 100th birthday, Betty White has passed away. She died early in the morning on December 31. She was 99.
Betty White was a national treasure. The television icon was with us for nearly a century, and her small-screen career stretched back to the earliest days of the medium.
Her stellar string of sitcom roles began in 1952, on the charming Life with Elizabeth, a series centered around a character she had performed on the talk show Hollywood on Television going back to the 1940s. The television show, which was essentially a collection of short interactions between husband and wife, helped pioneer the romantic sitcom.
She was a nominee for the first-ever Best Actress Emmy award in 1951, and won her first Emmy in 1952, a Regional Los Angeles Emmy for her work on Life with Elizabeth, which was broadcast live out of KLAC-TV.
Two decades later, The Mary Tyler Moore Show gave White her next breakout role, Sue Ann Nivens, the seemingly cheery host of fictional WJM-TV's "The Happy Homemaker" who had far more of a bite off-camera. The darker role gave a new angle to White's career.
From there, White would go on to create unforgettable characters on Mama's Family and The Golden Girls. Because audiences had become so accustomed to White as a man-crazy character on The Mary Tyler Moore Show — the polar opposite of her early pigeonhole — the producers of Golden Girls figured the actress was ideal for the role of Blanche Devereaux. Rue McClanahan, because of her own typecasting post-Maude, was pegged as the ditzy Rose. At the last minute, the roles were brilliantly reversed. White was brilliant playing both sweet and spicy.
Thanks to reruns, a continued presence on TV, and her indomitable energy, White became an internet sensation in the 21st century. In 2010, she became the oldest person to host Saturday Night Live, performing in midnight skits at the age of 88. That earned her another Emmy.
In that long, storied career, some roles went overshadowed. She took home two Daytime Emmys in 1983 and '84 for her work hosting the game show Just Men! She would be the only woman to win the Best Game Show Host Emmy for more than two decades, until 2005. In total, her shelves were stuffed with eight Emmys, three American Comedy Awards, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, and a Grammy Award.
White's first career dream was to be a forest ranger. However, women were not allowed to become forest rangers at the time, so the animal lover went into show business. Throughout her television career, she was an advocate for animals. The U.S. Forest Service made her a ranger in 2010.
MeTV Tribute – Sunday, January 9th (2:00pm-6:00pm ET/PT)
2pm ET/PT - The Mary Tyler Moore Show - “The Lars Affair”
(Season 4, Episode 1 - first aired Sep 15, 1973)
Phyllis struggles to accept the idea that her husband, Lars, might be having an affair with the saccharine Sue Ann Nivens, host of WJM’s The Happy Homemaker.
2:30pm ET/PT - The Mary Tyler Moore Show - “What Do you Want to Do When You Produce”
(Season 6, Episode 15 - first aired Dec 20, 1975)
When Sue Ann needs a new producer for her show, The Happy Homemaker, Murray jumps at it - thinking it a chance to 'step up,' and get a salary increase. Only after agreeing does he find out working for Sue Ann, who wants him to call her 'Miss Nivens,' is a step down.
3:00pm ET/PT - The Mary Tyler Moore Show - “Once I Had a Secret Love”
(Season 6, Episode 18 - first aired Jan 17, 1976)
Lou spends the night with Sue Ann and Mary can't keep the secret.
3:30pm ET/PT - The Mary Tyler Moore Show - “Sue Ann’s Sister”
(Season 7, Episode 3 - first aired Oct 9, 1976)
Sue Ann's sister gets an offer to do a rival cooking show in Minneapolis.
4:00pm ET/PT – Mama’s Family - “Country Club”
(Season 2, Episode 3 – first aired Oct 20, 1983)
Ellen's (Betty White) news that she's been named "Woman of the Year" by the Raytown Country Club doesn't interest the family until they all receive invitations to the awards dinner. Once there, the Harpers do their utmost to disrupt the formal affair.
4:30pm ET/PT – Mama’s Family - “Ellen’s Boyfriend”
(Season 2, Episode 7 – first aired Nov 17, 1983)
Ellen's (Betty White) attempts to keep her relationship with a younger man a secret fails when the family stumbles upon the couple in a restaurant.
5pm ET/PT – Love Boat - “How Do I Love Thee? / No More Alimony / Authoress! Authoress!”
(Season 7, Episode 15 – first aired Jan 7, 1984)
A man bound by alimony wants to make sure his ex goes through with her marriage; Julie's Aunt Sylvia (Carol Channing) and her pal Betsy (Betty White) try to interest a publisher in Betsy's memoirs.