LOS ANGELES (AP) – A photo of Betty White with a dimple in her cheeks and an innocent look fills the cover of a coffee table book received a month before her 100th birthday.
According to the author of the book, Ray Richmond, the image evokes the real White. After digging through her life and career, he came to the conclusion that she is as warm and attractive as she seems.
But her willingness to play against type, whether it’s Sue Ann’s intrigue on The Mary Tyler Moore Show or the naive Rose from The Golden Girls, proves just how talented White is, ”Richmond said.
This, coupled with an impressive work ethic, has propelled her from a television cameo in the infancy of the 1930s to the darling of Saturday Night Live in the 21st century, with dozens of showbiz appearances along the way.
“You can convincingly prove that Betty White is the most versatile and beloved artist in American history,” said Richmond, whose book Betty White: 100 Wonderful Moments in an Extraordinary Life (Becker and Meyer Books!) Is out Tuesday.
In addition to starring in sitcoms and guest appearances on dozens of others, she was the reliably witty host and game show guest; parade host (California Rose Parade and New York Thanksgiving Day Parade) and soap opera actor (The Bold and the Beautiful). She dabbled in dramas on the big screen (including as a US Senator in the 1962 film Advice and Consent) and on television (Bones, Boston Legal).
Hosting Saturday Night Live in 2010 – at the age of 88 – earned her her fifth Emmy and a new generation of fans.
White, who will reach centenary status on January 17, 2022, did not participate in the book. Richmond, an entertainment industry veteran and critic, relied instead on research and interviews with her friends and colleagues, including Carol Burnett, Candice Bergen, and Gavin Macleod (Murray on The Mary Tyler Moore Show).
MacLeod, who passed away last May at the age of 90, was the author of the book. Welcoming White as a great performer and “national treasure,” he considered her “one of the most caring and loving people I have ever known.”
“She’s a pro, too,” said Bill D’Elia, producer of David E. Kelly of Boston Legal. Kelly, who worked with White on his film Lake Placid, was delighted that she played with her rude language and bad behavior, ”says D’Elia in the book.
“David loved the contrast between her portrayal and what the character was saying,” he said. “She would gladly say anything and do whatever was required for the plot and script.”
The book summarizes the Illinois native’s early years before moving on to lightly recount White’s success in Hollywood. The most beloved people of her life – husband Allen Ludden, who hosted the game show, and animals of all breeds – also attract attention. The book’s photographs include one couple on their wedding day in Las Vegas in 1963 (Ladden died in 1981).
There are also studio and promotional shots of one White and her colleagues. One was taken that evening when she, Bee Arthur, Ryu McClanahan and Estelle Getty reenacted scenes from Golden Girls at the Royal Variety Show in London, which was attended by the Queen Mother of Great Britain, who is said to have requested their performance.
Among the highlights and milestones listed in Betty White: 100 Wonderful Moments in an Extraordinary Life:
“After singing at the 1939 high school graduation, White and another student were asked to take part in an experimental television test in Los Angeles. As the couple danced and sang on the sixth floor of a building owned by car dealer and broadcast pioneer Earl S. Anthony, the performance was broadcast into the lobby. Audience: parents of teenagers and a few other people.
“When the United States entered World War II in December 1941, White, then only 20 years old, joined a women’s volunteer organization that provided support behind the lines. During the day, she drove trucks with supplies for soldiers stationed in camps in the Los Angeles area; At night, she participated in dances for troops sent abroad.
– The Betty White Show, in which White hosted half-hour songs and interviews, debuted in 1954 on NBC. It featured 21-year-old black tap dancer Arthur Duncan at a time when people of color were rarely seen on TV. The station executives, citing complaints from viewers, threatened to close the show. The cheeky white has become more likely to book Duncan with the support of the network. Duncan, who has become a regular regular at The Lawrence Welk Show since the 1960s and is now 88 years old, is quoted in the book that White salutes him for protecting him and “opening many doors for me in speaking “.
– White moved in glamorous circles and created them. Burnett recalls participating in “play nights” at the White Ladden home. Charades, board games and the like were fun, and “there would just be people like Fred Astaire hanging around. And Burt Reynolds. Damn it, there were so many, ”Burnett said.