Skip to main content

Cool Betty White is red-hot

By Lisa Respers France, CNN
Click to play
Betty White really satisfies
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Betty White, 88, hasn't stopped working since she arrived in Hollywood in the '30s
  • Her turn in a Snickers commercial was one of the most popular during the Super Bowl
  • Fans are clamoring for her to be selected as a guest host for "Saturday Night Live"
RELATED TOPICS

(CNN) -- You can't escape Betty White.

Her ad for Snickers, which debuted during the Super Bowl, was one of the most popular to air. (It's also gone viral.) She often pops up as a late-night talk show guest. There's also a movement afoot to have her host "Saturday Night Live."

White's mix of grandmotherly sweetness and comic brazenness (note her turn as a foul-mouthed widow who likes to feed the alligators in the 1999 horror film "Lake Placid") has made her a beloved figure to fans of all ages.

Leslie Spears, communications manager for the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Museum of Art, is one of the Facebook fans rooting for "SNL" to snag White. White deserves the opportunity after such a successful and lengthy career, Spears said.

Video: Six decades of television

"There's a cool factor with Betty White," Spears said. "She just says what's on her mind. The thought of her hosting 'Saturday Night Live' is groundbreaking because they have had so many duds [hosting the show] in the past."

"I would knock someone over for a picture with Betty White before I would cross the street to get an autograph from Lindsay Lohan," said Facebook fan Erika Nadeau Morgan of San Antonio, Texas. "She's a living legend who is simultaneously relevant and authentic."

Watch Betty White in the Snickers commercial

She's as popular with peers as fans.

Last month, actress Sandra Bullock served as the presenter when White received the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award.

After a good-natured mini-roasting from Bullock, her co-star in the film "The Proposal," White took to the stage and zinged the Academy Award-nominated actress right back.

"With all of the wonderful things that have happened to [Bullock], isn't it heartening to see how far a girl as plain as she is can go?" White deadpanned as the audience roared and Bullock doubled over with laughter.

It's hard to even call what White's career is experiencing a resurgence, because the 88-year-old has never stopped working in the more than six decades she's been in Hollywood.

According to an oral history interview White conducted in 1994 for the Archive of American Television, she broke into the business three months after graduating from Beverly Hills High School in 1939 as part of an experimental television show.

She later worked as a model and in theater before making her mark in radio and as a panelist on game shows like "What's My Line," "Password" and "The Match Game." (She was married to "Password's" longtime host, Allen Ludden, for almost 18 years before Ludden's death in 1981.)

It was her turn as the bawdy Sue Ann Nivens on "The Mary Tyler Moore" show that solidified her reputation as a comedic actress. Years later, she would take a different tack by playing the oh-so-innocent and sometimes scattered Rose Nylund on the popular sitcom "The Golden Girls."

These days she's just as likely to pop up playing beer pong on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" (another popular video online) as she is guest-starring on a sitcom like "30 Rock."

"There are people who just come and go, but Betty White is always around," said Joe Bua, who blogs about television at I Am A TV Junkie.com.

"She doesn't even trade on her age so much, she just seems like a fun broad. She has a comedic timing that is unparalleled in show business," he added. "I have to believe that anyone who works with her learns a thing or two about finding the funny."

Frank Nicotero, a comedian and host of Yahoo TV's Primetime in No Time, said that while White has never broken through to the superstar status of some of her contemporaries, she has consistently been a fan favorite.

"She's someone that every time you see her in a movie or TV show you go 'Oh, I like her,' " Nicotero said. "She has this loveable image. I've met her in person and she is just as sweet and nice in real life as she is on screen."

Fans hope she keeps riding high.

Kay Daly, who runs White's fan club, "Bet's Pets" (which is also a nod to White's long-standing work as an animal activist), said she's thrilled with all the accolades and attention the actress is receiving.

"I spoke with her recently and I said 'When you're hot, you're hot.' She said 'When you're old, you're old,' " Daly said laughing. "She's amazing."

 
Quick Job Search