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.

Watch Mama's Family on MeTV!

One Full Hour

Sundays at 4 PM

*available in most MeTV markets
 
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

193 Comments

Post a comment
gmail 6 days ago
We travel in time all of the time. For 3 weeks I dreamt about my father dying, exactly to the day and time it happened. I was 24. At 50, I dreamt about my car accident, that I managed to survive because at the last moment I recognize the time and area, that enabled me to unhook my seatbelt and move to the passenger side. The drivers side was completely destroyed.
And now 3 times I have dreamed about my death, death certificate and funeral.
68 4 weeks and 2 days June 30, 2024

When you dream, pay close attention.

Now I won't live by the calendar I will live everyday as I always have risk or not. I can't put myself in that bubble and my point here is we have to move forward and live.
gmail 6 days ago
I noticed on the promo for the Saturday western lineup, Marshall Dillon film is reversed. His gun and badge are on opposite sides. He's left handed on drawing his gun and badge on right side of his chest.


gmail 15 days ago
I'm sure many have seen or heard of Vicki Lawrence repeating what was reported to her. BW manager said she passed away in her sleep. Vicki Lawrence, according to a caretaker uttering Allen.

It would be the perfect ending to a good life commitment.
We will never know the truth, unless the caretaker takes a polygraph, even then...if it is fake, was it for elicit purpose on the part of the caretaker, a beautiful ending to a well known celebrity, who knows.
I would like to believe.

Maybe when she laid down she uttered Allen's name as I have of my own wife, 30 years passed.
Zip 16 days ago
One of the most amazing things about Betty White is that she never, ever lost her cognitive abilities, no matter how old she got. She was still as sharp as a tack.
cperrynaples 16 days ago
Well, I have to add a couple things about Betty's death! First of all, you guys turned on me for suggesting that her last words were about her husband, but Vicki Lawrence has confirmed that she said "Allen" as she crossed over! Secondly, I really hate the anti-vaxers' suggestion that the Covid vaccine killed her! Her death had no connection whatsoever and to suggest otherwise dishonors her memory!
And one more thing: I see nothing wrong with the People cover! It went to press before she died, so that was sad! On the other hand, It did feature her last interview as well as tributes from her friends!
RobertM 17 days ago
MeTV should run the "Mama's Family" episode where Ellen's in the hospital, for what turns out to be an embarrassing reason.
Zip RobertM 16 days ago
That's a good one!
Iola(giving a hand-made gift to Ellen in her hospital room): "It's a cheerful glucose cozy!"

Nurse: "I'll get you a sedative."
Ellen: Make it a double!"
gmail 17 days ago
Born August 2, 1919 in Jerusalem, Nehemiah Persoff is an American actor. He immigrated with his family to the United States in 1929 and served in the United States Army during World War.
He's 102
Zip gmail 16 days ago
Wow! I had no idea! I just know him from Gilligan's Island as the overthrown President of Ecuarico, and his amazing portrayal of Mr. Lundstrum on an episode of Little House On The Prairie.
gmail Zip 15 days ago
He's something else, I thought I would throw that out there, so others know there are other actors still going.
He appeared on Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, Original Hawaii Five-0, Mission Impossible, etc. Really good actor.
dkmoore3 17 days ago
I would love to see Dallas added to your line-up. Serials are so popular now, I mean Yellowstone is a serial. Other than that Ellery Queen, Batman, Superman and several cartoons
Do you not know that its the 1 year {this month, I think the first Mon. was the anniversary.} cartooniversary of METV showing cartoons? As for METV airing Batman/Superman, they have been airing on their "subsidiary" station H&I.
always 18 days ago
We need a Betty White TV Channel.
Just show all the tv shows she was in.
bagandwallyfan52 always 17 days ago
I would like to see a
Three Stooges Channel!!
Zip always 16 days ago
They could run a couple months worth of shows and never show the same episode twice.
gmail bagandwallyfan52 15 days ago
I pressed on the like for Three Stooges not sure if registered correctly. No matter what kind of bad day I have, I can always count on them.
gmail 18 days ago
America the Beautiful and How Great Thou Are, 2 great songs together, one for this great country, no matter its faults and our Supreme maker, regardless of your religion, color, beliefs.
Take the time to be grateful for life.

There are persons who like to see us on our knees and there are those who are trying to lift us up.

It's a decision for each of us to make.
Have a happy Sunday

The old saying, don't throw the baby out with the bath water.
vinman63 18 days ago
In my opinion the MTM show is the pinnacle of sitcoms. Just the amount of talent on that show except for Robbie Rist better known as cousin Oliver on the Brady Brunch.
gmail 18 days ago
Something I failed to mention in my earlier post, she made the jump at 17.
gmail 18 days ago
Something else, I had a person tell me once about being born again!

Today seemed like a good time to bring it up.

I was told everything I had to do to be born again...maybe it's as simple as dying.
gmail 18 days ago
You know, I have to recognize the women or as Betty White said (old broads) of that era.
To jump into any enterprising position, especially Hollywood.
Think about it, most positions of any job, back then, catered to men. I guess you could say, WWII opened the door.

So all in all, she had a good life and if you're going to honor her with the adoption of a pet...remember it's a life long commitment. There's going to be accidents, chewed up possessions and maybe part of a wall, there big kids, no matter the size.

A little tap on the butt, firm talking to is better than raising your hand. And lots of praise for when they do absolutely nothing.

And as close as Betty White came, I'll toast her on her birthday, for being 100, a woman and good person.
Yes, I'm 65 a guy, so be gentle.
Happy Birthday Betty
oo7jb 18 days ago
**RIP...BETTY** BUT, U NEVER ANNOUNCED, HOLLYWOOD GOLDEN AGE, "ARLENE DHAL-PASSING" AGE 96" FROM LAST MONTH!!
lnieting 18 days ago
Will Saturday Night Live feature the episode that she hosted?
Lantern lnieting 18 days ago
Yes, it's on tonight.
AllisonWunderland 18 days ago
The Golden Girls are on TVLand all evening, for those who might be interested 😉 (it says Two and Half Men on the guide but it’s been replaced)
stufish2017 19 days ago
Well all the Golden Girls are together again.
They are also together with some of the gentlemen they dated.
Actually, I'm pretty certain that they're all dead, and i'm also certain that Blanche killed most of them from exhaustion...LOL!
stephaniestavr5 19 days ago
For those that have been wondering: Buzzr did do a "tribute" to Betty today. The showed several Match Games, and clips from eps of MG and Password Plus and they had her photo w/birth and passing years below it.
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?