“Would you like some Snickers?”
Betty White, taking a break earlier this month between scenes for her current Hallmark/CBS film “The Lost Valentine” shooting in Atlanta, was in a giving mood.
And for good reason. Her career, at age 88, has been reborn for a new generation.
Known decades ago for her witticisms on game shows, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “The Golden Girls,” White is suddenly everywhere. A buzz-worthy Super Bowl Snickers ad. Her Emmy-winning “Saturday Night Live” hosting turn, infused by a grassroots Facebook campaign. A starring gig on TV Land’s first scripted series ”Hot in Cleveland.” A role as a wacky grandma on the recent film “You Again.” Choking Joel McHale’s character as an anthropology professor last month on “Community.”
It seems the only thing she hasn’t done is a stint on “Dancing With the Stars.”
Two weeks ago, Entertainment Weekly wrote the following in its weekly “Bulls Eye” column: “Betty White: Okay, we love her too, but this is getting a little out of hand.”
White chuckled when she heard that. “Everybody says it’s gone crazy, but I’ve never been away,” she said.
White’s career actually extends back to the late 1930s when TV was just an experiment, years before Lucille Ball, Milton Berle and Red Skelton graced millions of black-and-white RCA TVs. “I wore my Beverly Hills High School graduation dress and did a little version of ‘Merry Widow,’ ” an operetta, she said.
By all accounts, White has been gracious and cordial during her time in Atlanta. A dog lover, she has posed for pictures with neighbors and their pooches. Last month, she ate steak at Rathbun’s. Last week, she popped into the Fox Theatre to see “Dreamgirls.”
But she said she prefers being home. During breaks, she flies back to Los Angeles to be with her golden retriever Pontiac. “I like to think of him as the Indian chief, not the car,” she said.
Jennifer Love Hewitt, her co-star in “The Lost Valentine” (set to air sometime early next year before Valentine’s Day), said she’s jealous that White can consume all sorts of junk food and not have to worry about it.
“She eats sweetbread,” she said.”Her favorite food is the hot dog. She eats Snickers on breaks… we don’t eat together. It’s painful!”
“I don’t diet,” White affirmed. “I’m lucky. I have a two-story house and a very bad memory so I spend all day walking up and down the stairs. That’s my exercise!”
White said she has no plans to retire any time soon, any more than, say George Burns back in the day.
“I promise to quit,” White said, “if they promise to stop asking me to work!”
I couldn’t take photos or shoot video on set (which was someone’s home), but I did take a shot of one of the Snickers bars White offered me as an introduction. (I wouldn’t be surprised if Snickers gave her a life-time supply after the Super Bowl ad.)
And the Snickers ad itself:
Here’s a 1950s era Betty White from “Life With Elizabeth:”
Here’s a 1960s era Betty White on “Password,” with her husband and host Allen Ludden. They had just gotten married:
Here she is as Sue Ann Nivens on “Mary Tyler Moore” from the 1970s:
Here is Betty in the early 1990s on “The Golden Girls” as Rose:
Here is Betty on the set of “The Bold in the Beautiful,” which she appeared in from 2006 to 2009:
And here is one of the funnier bits from Betty’s hosting gig on “SNL” in May. Yes, it’s about muffins, perhaps an homage to the bit above: