Betty White was so beloved that even younger audiences who had never seen an episode of “The Golden Girls” or “The Mary Tyler Moore” show still adored her sweet charms and warm smile before surprising with a dirty joke or a clever jab. On New Year’s Eve, we lost this American treasure at 99. Here’s a look at some of her best moments.
“I’ve been smiling for 11 years!” As Sue Ann Nivens on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” we were introduced to an actress who could never not be smiling, even as she poured her heart out.
“I wouldn’t say you were dreary unless you were really dreearrryyyy,” a flamboyant Paul Lynde says to a smitten White in this sketch from “The Donny & Marie Osmond Show.” White has such a sweet glow in this scene, even when her glasses go askew and she doesn’t fix them. “Oh, you’re just being kind, I know I’m exceptional.”
This “Golden Girls” rehearsal clip shows what a naturally gifted comic White was, thinking on her feet even during a rehearsal when the cameras weren’t supposed to be on.
White was the queen of game shows, appearing on “Match Game,” “Password” and as the host of the game show “Just Men!” starting in 1983. Here she is making a quick bundle during the final round of “The $25,000 Pyramid.”
If Johnny Carson was going to take his shirt off for a sketch, better call Betty White. She once played Jane to his Tarzan after years of a disgruntled marriage, and in this sketch, she uses her often smutty sense of humor to bat around some balls with a nude Carson in a baseball locker room.
White has been a talk show staple for so many decades and been such a present figure on our TVs that it isn’t crazy to think she reminds us of a mother or grandmother. But later in her life she found enough attitude that she could make even David Letterman blush.
White has been around so long that she got her lifetime achievement award from the Screen Actors Guild in 2009 and still had a lot ahead of her. She’s always given off that earnest, humble warmth even when she’s playing a bit naughty. “I actually know many of you and worked with you…maybe had a couple.”
No matter how old you live, there aren’t many actors who can boast three successful TV shows. In “Hot in Cleveland,” White got to feel sexy and wanted and better yet got to do whatever she wanted, even if that meant squeeze a football player’s pecs.
And just because it would be impossible not to, here’s White making out with Bradley Cooper, probably one of his finest moments even more so than hers.