Seven Facts About Betty White, America’s Golden Girl
Betty White’s career in the entertainment industry has spanned an impressive seven decades (and counting!). But while we’ve all seen her on the silver screen time and time again, how much do we REALLY know about her personal life? Keep reading for some fascinating Betty White facts!
It’s Betty, Not Elizabeth
Contrary to what you might think, Betty actually isn’t short for “Elizabeth.” She stated in her autobiography, If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won’t), that her full birth name is Betty Marion White and that her parents gave her the name simply because they didn’t like any of the other nicknames that often get associated with the name Elizabeth. It’s that simple!
She Can’t Remember the Name of Her First on-Screen Appearance
Betty White made her first television appearance all the way back in 1939, but unfortunately even she can’t remember what the name of the show was. She said in an interview with Guinness Book of World Records, “I danced on an experimental TV show, the first on the West Coast, in downtown Los Angeles. I wore my high school graduation dress and our Beverly Hills High student body president, Harry Bennett, and I danced the ‘Merry Widow Waltz.’”
Originally She Auditioned for the Role of Blanche on The Golden Girls
Interestingly, Betty White originally intended to go for the part of Blanche Devereaux, while Rue McClanahan was eyeing the part of Rose Nylund on the hit ‘80s TV show The Golden Girls. The reasoning behind this was that White had previously played the seductive role of Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, whereas McClanahan had played the dopey Vivian Harmon on Maude, so it seemed like a seamless transition for both. But the tide was turned when director Jay Sandrich asked the two to switch roles because he was concerned with typecasting.
She’s an Animal Lover
If she wasn’t an entertainer, Betty White has stated that she would’ve been a zookeeper instead, citing her love of animals. She tries to visit the local zoo anytime she travels, and is a supporter of the Farm Animal Reform Movement and Friends of Animals. She’s also a board member of the Los Angeles Zoo, to which she has donated tens of thousands of dollars over the past 40 years. She’s even turned down acting roles in the past if there are animal cruelty scenes involved.
She’s a Guinness World Record Holder
Betty White has been on TV for more than 70 years now, which is such a long period of time that she’s earned herself a world record! She was given the award in the 2014 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records for Longest TV Career for an Entertainer (Female).
She Got to Host SNL Because of a Facebook Group
In 2010, a bunch of Betty White’s fans got together and created a Facebook group entitled “Betty White to Host SNL…Please?” The group became so popular (with nearly one million members!) that it attracted the attention of SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels, who then agreed to make it happen. And so Betty White became the oldest-ever host of SNL at 88 years old. The episode saw the return of some of the show’s beloved female alumni and became the highest-rated episode in 18 months. White even earned her fifth Emmy Award from the performance!
She Loves Junk Food
Apparently Betty White’s secret to a long life is…junk food. She reportedly loves hot dogs, red vines, French fries and Diet Coke, according to her Hot in Cleveland costar Jane Leeves. “If that’s key, maybe she’s preserved because of all the preservatives,” said Leeves.