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The Dansville Online
  • Happy 92nd Birthday Betty White! 15 Things You Didn't Know About The 'Golden Girl'

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    betty white birthday

    Before Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Ellen DeGeneres, Betty White was the Queen of Comedy — pioneering her way from the radio airwaves to quiz shows and sitcoms.

    She made a name for herself on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "Golden Girls." In the past few years, White has made a huge TV comeback with cameos on "Community" and "The Middle" before shattering ratings on "Saturday Night Live."

    Today, our favorite "Golden Girl" turns 92, and she's still a powerhouse in Hollywood.

    Her TV Land show "Hot in Cleveland" will start its fifth season in March. And despite her NBC comedy show "Off Their Rockers" getting axed last year, Lifetime will bring back the series this year for a 20-episode season.

    However, how much do you really know about White?

    We dug through LIFE's illustrated biography of Betty White to learn what you don't know about the funny woman.

    She nearly left the biz before making it big, and almost wasn't on the "Mary Tyler Moore."Betty's first work in Hollywood was in a Parkay margarine commercial.

    White hung around in producer Fran Van Hartesveldt office until he decided to offer her a job in the commercial
    This led to her appearance on radio show "The Great Gildersleeve," also headed by Hartesveldt.
    (Betty White: The Illustrated Biography)
    White has never had acting lessons.
    The actress said they were never her thing.
    "I just want to bring as much natural as I can," said White. "I'm not saying that people who take acting lessons are false. They're much better than I am, but it doesn't work for me."
    (Betty White: The Illustrated Biography)
    She originally wanted to be an opera singer.
    Page 2 of 4 - White opened up to the Canadian Press while discussing her role in animated film "The Lorax" which had the actress sing a few bars. 

    "When I was a youngster, I wanted to be an opera singer, so I took very serious singing lessons."

    White may never have appeared alongside Al Jarvis on "Hollywood on Television" – and later become host in 1952 – if she passed up an unpaid gig.
    Before joining "Hollywood on Television," White was asked if she'd be interested in a television special with then-radio disc jockey, Dick Haynes. The free gig led to a call from Jarvis – another disc jockey – to have Betty as his sidekick on "Hollywood on Television."
    (Betty White: The Illustrated Biography)
    White earned $300 a week when "Hollywood on Television" was expanded to six days a week with five-and-a-half hour days.
    (Betty White: The Illustrated Biography)
    White once performed 58 live advertisements in a day.
    She and "Hollywood on Television" co-host Al Jarvis had to do numerous live ads for their sponsors.
    (Betty White: The Illustrated Biography)
    White's first Emmy nod was for her role in the comedy she created, "Life with Elizabeth" in 1952.
    You can watch a clip here.
    (Betty White: The Illustrated Biography)
    White's showbiz career could have been cut short if she stayed with second husband Lane Allan.
    Allan wanted White to stop working and focus on a traditional family life, but the actress chose her career over her husband.
    "He didn't want me to be in show business," said White. "When you have a calling you have to follow it, so I made the choice, blew the marriage and I've never regretted it."
    Page 3 of 4 - White married the love of her life, TV host, Allen Ludden in 1963. The two met while White was a celebrity guest on "Password" in 1961 and remained married until his passing in ‘81.  
    (Betty White: The Illustrated Biography)
    White was never a fan of short-lived TV show "Date with the Angels."
    In her 1997 book "Here We Go Again," White described her experience with the ABC show as unhappy. She didn't see her co-star Bill Williams as someone who thought funny.
    "I think I can honestly say that that was the only time I have ever wanted to get out of a show," said White.
    (Betty White: The Illustrated Biography)
    Betty hosted a show called "The Pet Set" in 1971 featuring celebrities and their pets.
    The show, produced by her husband, ended after one season when Carnation pulled its advertising.
    Watch a clip here.
    (Betty White: The Illustrated Biography)
    White wasn't supposed to play Sue Ann on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."
    The part was originally for a "Betty White-type." 
    It was thought Betty and Mary's friendship may not work out on screen.
    (Betty White: The Illustrated Biography)
    White prefers animals to humans.
    "Animals don't lie. Animals don't criticize," said White in 2012 book If You Ask Me. "If animals have moody days, they handle them better than humans do."
    She loved animals so much, that her first production company, Bandy Productions, was named after her Pekingese, Bandit.
    (Betty White: The Illustrated Biography)
    White was originally offered the role of Blanche on "The Golden Girls."
    Page 4 of 4 - Rue McClanahan was offered the role of naïve Rose Nylund while Betty was asked to play Blance. 
    Pilot director Jay Sandrich suggested the two switch roles since they played similar ones in the past, and it was the best decision ever. White won the Emmy for 'Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series' for her portrayal. After the show’s end, she reprised her role as Rose in the short-lived spin-off, "The Golden Palace." 
    White's appearance on TV Land's now-cancelled "Hot in Cleveland" was only supposed to be a one-time guest role.
    However, producers loved her and quickly gave her a full-time role.
    (Betty White: The Illustrated Biography)
    White is SNL's oldest guest-host.
    She received a Primetime Emmy Award for her performance which caused us to never look at a muffin the same way again.
    White's SNL appearance helped bring record ratings to the show in 2010 ...
    Now check out more times women made history on "Saturday Night Live" >
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