The 60-year show biz career of actress Betty White will be celebrated tonight at the annual SAG (Screen Actors Guild) awards when she will be presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Disbelief was the veteran actress’ first reaction. Commenting on her amazement at receiving the award, White said.
"I think the most surprised person is my agent," White said. "'They still are using YOU?' But it's beyond-belief exciting.""They told me about the SAG Lifetime Achievement Award, and I thought they were putting me on," White said. "I really did. I thought, 'Oh, sure.' "
But her best quote was saved for last.
The Emmy Award-winning actress began her distinguished career in Los Angeles on local daytime television.
During her first 20 years in the business she starred in the sitcom “Life With Elizabeth,” winning an Emmy for that show in 1951. Following that she was a staple on various talk and game shows.
But her star-power didn’t really begin to skyrocket until she was cast as an occasional character, the sex-crazed “The Happy Homemaker” hostess Sue Ann Nivens on the Mary Tyler Moore Show.
The Nivens character, which was anything but happy or sweet spoke with a rapier-edged tongue, clawing and climbing her way to the top, and became so popular she found a permanent niche on Moore’s show.
In 1985, after Mary Tyler Moore retired her show, Jay Sandrich, who directed most of Moore’s shows was looking for a “Blanche” for his upcoming production of Golden Girls.
White was slated to play the sexy, man-hunting Blanche, but Sandrich though better of it when he realized that if White played her, it would seem like Sue Ann all over again.
White switched roles with Rue McClanahan, who became the buxom sex-maven, Blanche, while White took on the roll of the kind-hearted, air headed Rose Nylund from St. Olaf, Minnesota, which the producers thought they’d made up, but it turned out to be a real place.
Both White and McClanahan went on to win Emmys, as did all the cast members. “Golden Girls" is one of only three sitcoms in which all the main actors won at least one Emmy Award . “All in the Family” and “Will & Grace” are the other two.
White is also well-known for her philanthropic work with and love for animals. Describing herself as not a Peta-type zealot, White said:
“I not only love them … I'm not into animal rights or anything political. It's animal health and welfare."
If White still isn’t convinced about the honor to be bestowed on her while dressing for and arriving at the ceremony, she will be when actress Sandra Bullock, her co-star in “The Proposal,” presents her with the Lifetime Achievement Award at tonight’s ceremony to be telecast on TNT and TBS from Shrine Exhibition Hall in Los Angeles at 8 p.m. EST.
Active and happy at 88 to still be able to do what she loves best, White didn’t miss a beat when asked if there were anything in show business she’s yet to do.
With a sly, mischievous smile, White replied: