In Hollywood, the capital of show business, where unrealistic demands for beauty, youth and health rule, there is a star who does not meet any of those criteria, and whom everyone adores – ninety-eight-year-old Betty White.
Her life energy, wit and wit, captures the attention of the audience, even the one who was born at a time when, according to some rules, Betty was supposed to enjoy a well-deserved retirement.
Thus, her statement on the TV show “Lopez Tonight”, broadcast on January 21, 2010, caused bursts of laughter – when asked by the host how she manages to work so much in those years, Betty White answered:
– I’m like a prostitute, when I’m offered a good job, I just can’t say “no”.
And in 2016, as a guest on the show “Today”, she admitted that men are still her favorite hobby, but that it is difficult to find guys to go out with, and so again intrigued and made the public laugh.
This is the life story of Betty White, amazing actresses!
An untried writer
Betty Marion White was born on January 17, 1922, in Oak Three, Illinois. As the only child of mechanical engineer Horace White, a descendant of a Danish-British immigrant family, and Tess Kachikis, whose parents came to America from Greece in the late 19th century, she had, as she claims in the book “Here We Go Again”, a “fairytale childhood”. .
– My parents could be a template for every book on raising children. They succeeded in something that seems almost impossible: I was not spoiled, but I was not lonely either. They were my favorite company, they had a harmonious marriage, amazing respect for each other and I learned the most important things in life from them.
And one of them, as it later turned out, was an almost fanatical attachment to animals. Tess and Horace White often brought home injured or abandoned animals they found on the street, and when they were cured, they gave them to people they trusted, and some they kept themselves. As a child from a harmonious family environment, she was excellent at school, she was interested in everything, and when it came time to decide what she wanted to become in life, she firmly believed that she would be a writer. Maybe her plans would have come true if the family had not moved to Los Angeles during the great economic crisis.
The proximity of Hollywood proved to be a great turning point in Betty’s life. Since she sang at her high school prom in 1939, her writing ambitions have fallen into oblivion.
– Believe it or not, show business is like a virus. When you get infected with it, there is no cure – she wrote in the book.
However, World War II swept away many ambitions and hopes, including hers. Instead of a microphone, she took the wheel in her hands and, as she says, “with twenty minutes of driving experience”, started working as a volunteer driver in “American Women’s Voluntary Services”.
In that environment, she met a young soldier whom she fell in love with over her ears. Just before he went to the front in Europe, Betty White received an engagement ring from him in November 1942 and became one of the hundreds of thousands of young girls who kept in touch by letters.
– I wrote every day with incredible enthusiasm, he answered me, and after a few months I realized that the most important man in my life is actually a postman – claims Betty White.
The relationship lasted for a full two years, and then she realized that she was spending her days writing letters to a man she might not even recognize appearing in front of her. So she packed her engagement ring and sent it to his mother. Only a few months later, her, then former fiancé, returned from the war with a girl he met in Italy, and whom he immediately married.
Out of revolt or euphoria over the end of the war, Betty White hastily married the fighter pilot Dick Barker in May 1945, but the marriage was short-lived – they divorced a few months later.
– I began to doubt my assessments, because I always had an exemplary marriage of my parents as a model. Due to a bad experience with my fiancé, and then my first husband, I decided to dedicate myself to finding a job and thus more easily overcome two unsuccessful attempts to achieve the relationship I have seen all my life – admits Betty White.
A television pioneer
For starters, she enrolled in acting classes at a small theater in a Los Angeles suburb. The price of the lessons was a high $50 a month for that time, and after only two months, the owners of the theater offered her a role in the play “Dear Ruth”.
– I couldn’t believe it! Not only did I not have to pay them for acting classes that month, but they paid me to act in their play! It seemed to me that I would wake up at any moment and become aware that I was dreaming.
Through her first acting engagements, she met Lane Alan, real name Albert Wooten, who acted on Broadway, and then estimated that she could earn better as an acting agent. In addition to becoming his client, she developed a deeper relationship with Alan and after only a few months, they became a couple who seemed to have a great future ahead of them. Lane Alan was really clever – in order to secure her membership in the actors’ union, which was a condition for her to get better engagements, he provided her with the filming of several television commercials on the basis of which she received the necessary documents.
– Now it’s funny to me that my entry into show business was actually made possible by the word “parkay”, which is the name for the margarine I advertised at the time – the actress admits.
In January 1946, Betty White uttered a fateful “yes” for the second time, and her new husband set to work to find her the best possible engagements. And he succeeded: in addition to a few commercials, which allowed them to overcome the heavy lack of money they fell into after the wedding, she received an offer that seemed almost unreal – in 1949 she became one of the leaders in a project that will prove to be a hit, “Hollywood on TV.” It was a collage of shows in which they sang, talked, and the viewers were additionally attracted by the prize games.
The show brought her huge popularity and achieved ratings that no one dared to predict, so the original fee of $20 a week was replaced by a new one of $50, which at the time was an astronomical amount for five-hour working hours. But, that didn’t matter: after a month and the growing rush to advertise at show intervals, Betty White was shocked when the producer brought her a contract in which her fee was increased to $300 a week.
– That’s when my love for television began and it hasn’t stopped until today. True, at that time we worked a little “wildly”, there was no union, we as leaders had multiple roles, we did everything, from singing, advertising products, to talking to guests. Unfortunately, or thank God, there was no VCR then, everything went live, so today I can’t see what it looked like.
The pace in the television studios was heating up, the minutes were increasing, the enthusiasm was growing, but in private life, Betty White, everything was going in the opposite direction. Namely, her husband found it increasingly difficult to bear the fact that his wife’s career was flourishing and her popularity was growing unstoppable, while he, more or less professionally, was in place. Apart from the fact that they barely met at home due to her increasingly intense engagements, the chemistry between the partners also disappeared. Divorce in December 1949 imposed itself as the only solution, and Betty White experienced it as a great personal defeat.
– I kept wondering where I was wrong and what I was not doing well. From the marriage in which I believed so much, I was left with only the Pekingese Bandit, when Lane gave me a present when we got married. After the divorce, I was convinced that there would be no more men in my life.
Paradoxically, it was at that moment that the TV magicians decided to entrust Betty White, due to her huge popularity, with her own show in which, among other things, she would advise viewers with love problems! The actress herself was skeptical about how she would do the task, but she did not resist the challenge and accepted to host the show “The Betty White Show”.
– When I think about these times from this perspective, I can’t believe how everything was different: in 1950 in the USA only 11 percent of the population had television at home, while today 80 percent of households have two or more appliances, and the number of programs exceeds common sense. Despite that, I have the impression that we had a stronger influence on the audience at that time – claims the actress.
Third marriage, third happiness!
She found a kind of surrogate for a quality relationship in her incredible dedication to caring for animals, so in her shows she hosted people with the most diverse pets imaginable. She also introduced the practice of helping abandoned children and fulfilling the wishes of seriously ill girls and boys, which the audience accepted with great enthusiasm. Her popularity grew so much that in 1955, viewers chose her as the honorary mayor of Los Angeles by telephone in one show, but Betty White never had political ambitions and everything remained on the honorary title.
At the time, America spawned numerous competitive-type TV shows, from quizzes to “mysterious guest” guessing games, and Betty White was a host in almost every one of them for at least some time. But despite her caution, one of those shows, “Password,” proved fateful. Namely, as a guest on the show in 1962, she met the then popular host Alen Luden. After the filming, Luden invited her to dinner and the actress admits that “after a long time, it was so nice that she wished the evening lasted 24 hours”.
On that occasion, she learned that Alan, five years older, had become a widower a year ago and that he had three children: fourteen-year-old David, thirteen-year-old Martha and ten-year-old Sarah. As they both mostly moved in the same circles, their encounters became more frequent, and her resistance to the new relationship increasingly loose. There was, however, a seemingly insurmountable obstacle: Luden lived and worked in New York, and Betty White was not ready to give up the warm California climate. Still, love melts much firmer glaciers as well.
As, by coincidence, Allen Luden and Betty White got a joint engagement in the theatrical play “Critic’s Choice”, in which they played a married couple going through a short-lived crisis, things became even more serious.
The play was played for a month, and on the last one something happened that determined the lives of the two protagonists forever. Namely, in the final scene, when the marital partners, after many entanglements, smooth out the disagreements, the curtain falls at the moment when the husband hugs his wife with great relief and kisses her passionately. The final scene in the last performance, however, lasted much longer than anticipated and Betty White, she admitted, was terrified.
During the dinner, which Allen Luden took her to after the show, he took a box with a beautiful ring with six diamonds and a large sapphire out of his pocket, put it in front of her and asked if she wanted to marry him. Betty was speechless and hesitated so much that he took the box and put it back in his pocket.
A few months later, for Easter, he sent her a stuffed rabbit with beautiful ruby and diamond earrings on her ears and wrote a short message: “Please.” Betty could no longer resist him: they were married on June 14, 1963, in Las Vegas. It was the year in which Betty White experienced some of her, as she says, the most beautiful moments in her life, but at the end of the year, she was hit by a blow that she endured very hard. After a short illness that did not indicate that it was something serious, Horace White passed away in November. He was only 65 years old, and as Betty White had a very hard time with her father’s death, Luden tried to help his wife with a gesture that she appreciated immensely: in 1968, he bought a property in Chapakwa, near Los Angeles.
– He immediately fell in love with California and because of that I loved him even more – it is written in the book.
They both had numerous authorial entertainment shows, starred in series and earned astronomical amounts. For the rest, Betty won an Emmy twice in the mid-1970s for an episodic role in the sitcom “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” And when they seemed to live in a fairy tale, black clouds hung over them. Luden started to get sick, doctors claimed that it was fatigue, then prostate problems, until a more precise diagnosis was established in 1981: bladder cancer. And as if that alone was not enough – at the end of May he suffered a severe stroke and spent two weeks in a coma.
– When he woke up and started talking a little, I hoped that, maybe, it’s not as bad as it seemed. Unfortunately, my hopes fell into the water in just a few days. Allen passed away in my arms, on June 9, 1981, just five days before our eighteenth wedding anniversary. The only thing I wanted at that moment was to go with him – Betty White admits.
Instead of retirement, even greater popularity
Still, life did not stop. Despite the loss that completely broke her, the actress realized that she found the only consolation in her engagements on television, so she did not refuse any offer. She has acted in a dozen well-received TV series and several films, believing that at the age of sixty, she will be left with the only imminent retirement. And then, when she least expected it, something happened to her that she couldn’t even dream of: in 1985, producers from the NBC network offered her a role in the series “Golden Girls”. The story was based on the lives of four women in the “golden age” who share a house in Miami. More out of resignation and general dejection, Betty White accepted the role of Rose Nyland, an old and infinitely naive lady who with friends, the energetic Dorothy (played by the great Bi Arthur), Blanche, a sensual woman from the American South whose life revolves exclusively around men ( Ru McLanahan) and Sophie, Dorothy’s brutally honest mother (Estelle Getty), lead a somewhat monotonous life in a retired oasis in the American South.
– Honestly, I was delighted with the script, but I had no idea how good it would all turn out. Even less did any of us expect so much popularity.
And the “Golden Girls” turned out to be really golden: each of the actresses won an Emmy Award, and NBC sold the series in 47 countries. After five seasons of filming “Golden Girls”, the producers organized a celebration in 1990, and all four actresses received precious gold watches. Filming continued for two more seasons, followed by a dropout. The first was fed up with Bi Arthur, who had ambitions to do some other projects, and then followed the mistake of the company NBC, which changed the date of broadcasting the series and halved the viewership.
In any case, her new show, “Hollywood on TV”, in which she occasionally continued to work, had a huge audience, which brought her new offers. She was soon so overwhelmed with work that she could barely find time for Sunday lunches with her parents, with whom she lived after the divorce. They also began to haunt her with film offers, but after she accepted roles in three relatively modestly received films, she realized that it was smarter for her to stick to television. Men were still far from her plans, and the actress was convinced that she would stay that way forever.
– I was so afraid of another failure that I convinced myself that it is wisest to stay away from them and act as if they do not exist.
With one “golden girl” less, the recklessness was tried to be corrected with the series “Golden Palace”, but the success was lacking. Of the four “golden girls”, only the oldest is alive today, Betty White – Estelle Getty died in 2008, Bee Arthur in 2009, and Ru McLanahan in June 2010, after a severe stroke.
– I never thought of myself as a star, until in 1995 she came to interview me with the institution of American journalism, Barbara Walters. And when her team of 50 people and two trucks appeared, which contained technical equipment and accessories for Christmas decorating my house, because the show was broadcast at that time, it became clear to me that I had left some trace behind. Gold? Well, let’s not exaggerate.
More than twenty years have passed since then, and Betty has appeared in over 40 series and movies in the meantime. Of course, the fan base only became more numerous, and Betty gained the status of “American national treasure”. That is why last year, due to the numerous deaths of famous artists, the action “Let’s save Betty White from 2016” was organized. Even her media representative Jeff Vitas reacted, convincing fans that Betty and he has an agreement that she will live at least 100 years.
Whether due to an agreement or a higher power, Betty White has shown that she has been stronger since 2017.
During all these years, Betty has become famous for her legendary statements that are gladly retold. We have singled out only some of them:
– People often ask me: What haven’t you done in this business yet, and you always wanted to? My answer is always the same – Robert Redford.
– I was always attracted to older men. However, there is one problem – there are not many left at my age!
– Beauty requires eight hours of sleep. Nine – if you’re really ugly.
– I think vodka is a kind of hobby after all!
– I really adore children. The only problem is that children always grow into people. Yet I prefer animals to humans.
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