Betty White Having the Best Week (Heck, Month) Ever
By Gary Susman Posted Feb 12th 2010 11:01AM
The biggest TV audience of all time saw the 88-year-old get tackled in a Snickers ad during the Super Bowl, a commercial that was the viewers' favorite among all of Sunday's much-discussed ads, according to USA Today's Ad Meter. The octogenarian also became the queen of Facebook thanks to an online petition drive, nearly 200,000 fans strong, to convince the producers of 'Saturday Night Live' to let her host the comedy show. (Get full details on the Facebook campaign.)
In short, this has been the best week ever for the TV legend. In fact, it may even be her best month ever, if you extend the 'Golden Girl's' golden moment back to January 23, when she picked up a Life Achievement Award at the Screen Actors Guild Awards and gave a hilarious acceptance speech that brought down the house.
You could call it a comeback, except that White's never gone away. She's worked steadily throughout a seven-decade career that's earned her six Emmys and has included countless appearances in TV comedies, game shows and movies. Still, we have to ask: what's behind her current heat? Here are some theories:
► Everyone likes an old broad with a dirty mouth. There's no more reliable laugh-getter in comedy than a filthy-minded old lady. White's been happy to fill that bill for a long time. Her standard answer to the question "What would you still like to do in show business that you haven't done?" is "Robert Redford." The contrast between her sweet appearance and her sometimes shocking utterances is one that she's milked for laughs for decades, from her man-eating "Happy Homemaker" Sue Ann Nivens on 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' to naive but still sexually active Rose Nylund on 'The Golden Girls' to last year's 'The Proposal,' where her dear old granny character got lots of laughs for feeling up Sandra Bullock.
► She loves animals. White's four decades of animal-welfare activism are well known. She's a longtime spokesperson for the Morris Animal Foundation and a veteran supporter of the Los Angeles Zoo. Not that she's humorless about her advocacy -- she spoofed her rep in 'Lake Placid,' where her character happily let hapless humans get eaten by a giant crocodile rather than let the carnivorous creature be captured or killed.
► She'll do anything for a laugh. Whether it's getting tackled in the mud in order to sell candy bars or playing beer pong with Jimmy Fallon on 'Late Night,' she's game -- literally: White was a regular on classic game shows like 'Match Game,' 'Pyramid' and 'Password,' which was hosted by her late husband, Allen Ludden. She played a bigot in 'Bringing Down the House,' a blackmailer on 'Boston Legal' and Betty Suarez (i.e. 'Ugly Betty') on the TV Land Awards. She's a frequent guest on 'The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,' where she's appeared as a Girl Scout, a cocaine-smuggling accountant and a prison guard. Ferguson knows he can call on her any time (the way David Letterman used to depend on Tony Randall) to fill a slack segment on his show with dependable laughs.
► She appeals to all ages. If you're a kid, you love Betty White because you know her her work on 'Glenn Martin, DDS.' If you're older, you love her for 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show,' 'Mama's Family' and 'The Golden Girls.' In fact, even if you're under 40, you know her from 'Golden Girls,' since the 1985-92 comedy is still airing in perpetual syndication in 49 countries.
► She has a tireless work ethic. Why is she so busy? Talking to George Lopez during a recent appearance on 'Lopez Tonight,' she explained, "I'm such a whore. I can't say no." Already this year, she's booked for a TV Land sitcom pilot called "Hot in Cleveland" and a movie comedy with Kristen Bell called 'You Again,' due in September. In her SAG Awards acceptance speech, White said, "You still can't get rid of me. I was only 88 last Sunday, so I've got lots more stuff to do."
About the only thing she hasn't ever done, besides Redford, is host 'SNL.' If hired, she'd be the oldest host in the show's history, though not the first octogenarian. Twice in 1977, the series had an 80-year-old host: 'Rosemary's Baby' star Ruth Gordon and Miskel Spillman, winner of 'SNL''s first and last 'Anyone Can Host' contest.
So far, there's been no comment from NBC on whether it's taking any note of the Facebook petition, nor from White on whether she's even interested. (Like she'd really say no. As she told Lopez...) Maybe her beer pong buddy Fallon can broker the deal, since his 'Late Night' boss is also 'SNL' honcho Lorne Michaels. So, keep your fingers crossed, Betty White fans. Which is to say, everybody.
Betty White Snapshots
Yes folks, you're looking at a paparazzo-snapped photo of Betty White. The 88-year-old TV legend was spotted leaving a chocolate store on Feb. 9 in Los Angeles. Check out more pics Betty >>
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