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Kind And One Of A Kind, That Was Betty

2021 ended on a sad note with the passing of Betty White. Sadly ironic, her death came right around when magazines began appearing on the shelves with her on the cover and some variation on the theme of “Betty White Turns 100”. She was, as you may well know, 99 years old and already planning a 100th birthday celebration for this month. By that point, why wouldn’t she, and why wouldn’t all her friends? Many somehow thought she might just live forever…and would have been happy for that to happen. Betty herself said just weeks before her passing, “I’m the luckiest broad on two feet to be as healthy as I am and to feel as good as I do.”

White was indeed one of a kind. Her career was long and epic. She was on a TV talk show in the 1940s, when TV itself was new and novel. She had her own sitcom, Life with Elizabeth by 1953. In 1951, she was nominated for an Emmy Award. She won seven along the way and got her last nomination in 2014… at age 92. She was one of those actresses who were always a part of our cultural backdrop, it seemed, rising to prominence as Sue Ann, the man-hungry cooking celebrity on the Mary Tyler Moore Show, before becoming the charmingly naïve Rose for over 200 episodes of The Golden Girls (and its short-lived spinoff The Golden Palace) in the ’80s and ’90s. Then in the last decade, she was Hot In Cleveland…or at least Elka in that show. Along the way there were too many walk-on roles and guest appearances to keep track of, from five different characters on the Love Boat, to Boston Legal to St. Elsewhere to doing voices on King of the Hill. She was nicknamed “the first lady of television”, to which she joked “yeah (I’m) that old!”… she pretty much was the first lady on television! Months before Alex Trebek passed away, when asked who would be a fitting replacement for him on Jeopardy, he quipped “someone younger, someone funnier than me.. so I’m thinking Betty White.” He added they had been friends for years.

The outpouring of sad comments about her passing was voluminous. Jamie Lee Curtis said “what women want is to live like Betty White. Full of love, creativity, and integrity and humor and dedication,” also mentioning Betty’s famous “service to animals.” Kristen Bell remembered “Betty was one of a kind. Kind, gracious and a wit that could stun a sailor.” Michelle Obama noted “Betty broke barriers, defied expectations, served her country (she’d volunteered to drive trucks for the Army during WWII as well as entertain troops) and pushed us all to laugh.” And on and on.

That’s not that unusual after a star dies, but what is unusual is the width of the community that responded thusly… and that no one had a bad word to say about her. But then, has anyone ever said a bad word about Betty White? She was the kind of person that seemed to love everyone and every animal and was loved and admired in return. The only celebrity I can think of who shares a similar love of the people – the entire people – Dolly Parton, suggested “Betty will live on forever, not only in this world but the world hereafter. I will always love Betty, as we all will.”

Well said Dolly…and when no one disagrees that is a life well-lived. Many people become widely famous; few of them are lauded and loved by all and disparaged not at all. May she rest in peace and laugh away the hereafter with her beloved husband Allen Ludden, who preceded her by about 40 years.

Betty White. One of The Commendables.

9 Replies to “Kind And One Of A Kind, That Was Betty”

    1. he had a sense of humor too, as it turned out. My mom used to love ‘The Golden Girls’. I wasn’t a big fan of any of her shows (that said, I thought MTM was quite funny but I was too young to really appreciate it and what it represented, ‘Golden Girls’ was OK and better than some sitcoms of the era) but certainly like her as a person. I’d love to be able to get to 99 and still be doing what I like, and feeling good!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My mom loved Alex Trebek, she’d been watching Jeopardy from the beginning I’m sure. Not sure if she still does now that he’s passed one.

        Betty White is (was) an American institution! I know exactly what you mean about staying active and doing what one likes to do at 99. Do you remember that show “On the Road” with Charles Kurault? I borrowed a season from the library awhile back and one episode had this OLD (he was probably close to 99) guy who was still working at his job (I think he worked at a hotel) and walked so many miles a day. The guy didn’t look to be old, stooped, slow, etc and he did look happy and healthy. Staying active is the key! The body thrives on it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Agreed. ‘On the Road’… I do remember that , although I only seem to recall it being short clips on the news…like a four or five minute segment. But it was interesting for sure.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yes, that’s what they were originally, but here they have compiled them so you can watch them one after another. There are so many heartwarming places and people along the way. “Chicken soup for the soul,” if you will. I wish they would do a reboot on it.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Good post Dave. Betty was one of a kind and was blessed…like she said…with good health. She was well known for those 3 shows (MTM, GG, and HIC) among other things… Those shows were in 3 different decades. It’s funny, the role that I always think of her was Lake Placid as the old woman who fed the alligator…and Alan Lunden’s wife.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve not seen ‘Lake Placid’…but I did see ‘The Proposal’ which she is pretty good in, as a wise and slightly unorthodox grandmother. Turns out she was friends with John Steinbeck the writer, which is neat. As I pondered it after the news of her passing, I did have the thought “man, everyone likes her… never hear a bad word about her from old or young , Conservative or Liberal.” That’s a huge rarity, Dolly P is the only living one I can think of that has the same kind of across the board appeal.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Parton is the one left that crosses genres… Johnny Cash had that appeal also…but no one else living I don’t think except Dolly.
        In Lake Placid she plays a nice grandmother type that causes the problem lol.

        She lived up to the title…National Treasure.

        Liked by 2 people

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