A young betty white

Betty White Celebrates 97th Birthday With Poker Game

Betty White is 97 years of age! On January 17th she celebrated her 97th birthday with friends … and poker.

“Sources close to her tell TMZ she’s using the special occasion as a reason to hook up with some friends Thursday night and play poker,” reported TMZ. “We’re told Betty’s poker pals go way back — she’s been anteing up with them for decades.”

This might come as no great surprise to fans of Betty White, the last surviving member of the Golden Girls cast, whose age has never been an issue with her.

Betty White at the Time 100 gala in 2010. Photo by David Shankbone CC BY 2.0

Last year, in an interview in Parade magazine, Betty White joked that she credited her age and long life to hot dogs and vodka.

Parade asked, “Does she have any tricks or tips for living happily and healthily for more than nine decades? Indeed: ‘Enjoy life,’ she says. ‘Accentuate the positive, not the negative. It sounds so trite, but a lot of people will pick out something to complain about, rather than say, Hey, that was great! It’s not hard to find great stuff if you look.’ ”

Photo of John Hillerman and Betty White from The Betty White Show.

White was born in 1922 in Oak Park, Illinois, moving to California with her parents as a child.

She began her television career in the late 1930s. In her twenties she had tried to break into acting but was unsuccessful at first. She was turned down over and over for being “unphotogenic,” but she was never deterred. “You just keep plugging away,” she said to Parade. “You don’t give up.”

Photo of Allen Ludden and wife Betty White, who were appearing in a play in Ogunquit, Maine.

She starred on Life with Elizabeth in the 1950s and then stayed popular with TV audiences through appearances on talk, game, and variety shows.

White reached even greater fame when she co-starred on the Mary Tyler Moore Show playing Sue Ann Nivens, the TV chef and helpful homemaker with a sharp wit. In a Minneapolis television newsroom, when she wasn’t pursuing male colleagues, Sue Ann “could be counted on to make funny, yet poignant, quips at Mary Tyler Moore’s expense.”

Photo of Gavin MacLeod as Murray Slaughter and Betty White as Sue Ann Nivens from The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

White won two Emmy Awards for her work on the series.

Her next big hit was the 1980s’ Golden Girls, playing the sweet and naive Rose Nylund alongside co-stars Rue McClanahan, Bea Arthur, and Estelle Getty.

“We all had such fun together,” Betty recalled in October 2015 at the age of 93 to US Weekly, decades after the groundbreaking series in which four women proved that life doesn’t stop at 60. “It was such a special experience.”

The Golden Girls. Photo by Getty Images

The secret to the show’s success was the cast members’ chemistry.

“It started the first day of the first read-through for the pilot,” White recalled. “We showed up for the read-through it was like batting a tennis ball over the net. It was so exciting to be with four people with that chemistry. I’ll never forget that first read. It was like we had been working together forever. I still get goose bumps thinking about it.”

Betty White as Sue Ann Nivens, hostess of the WJM-TV Happy Homemaker show, from the television program The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Betty White and Rue McClanahan (who played Blanche, the man-hungry Southern belle) were already pals, having worked together on Mama’s Family, and were delighted to reconnect on the Golden Girls set. “They would play little word games on the set when the cameras weren’t rolling,” says an observer. “There was such love and friendship between them.”

It was otherwise with Bea Arthur.

Although they very much respected each other as actresses, high-spirited White and introverted Arthur (who played sharp-tongued Dorothy) sometimes clashed. “You didn’t mess with Bea!” Betty once said of her co-star, who died of cancer in 2009 at age 86. “Bea was very strong. But you loved her.”

White has served for more than four decades as a trustee and on the board of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association, and in 2012 published a book, Betty & Friends: My Life at the Zoo, with photos and anecdotes of her favorite animals there.

Read another story from us: Golden Girl Bea Arthur was one of the First Female Marines to Serve in WWII

How does she want to be remembered? “Warmly,” she told Parade. “I hope they remember something funny. I hope they remember a laugh.”

Betty White

Betty White, in full Betty Marion White, (born January 17, 1922, Oak Park, Illinois, U.S.), American actress best known for her comedic work on numerous television sitcoms, most notably The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Golden Girls.

White grew up in Los Angeles. In the 1940s she acted on various radio shows, and in 1949 she began regularly appearing on television, working as a “girl Friday” on Hollywood on Television. She later became host of the show, and in 1952 she cofounded Bandy Productions to develop her own projects. Later that year the television sitcom Life with Elizabeth premiered. White played the title role—a married woman whose various predicaments test the patience of her husband—in addition to cocreating and producing the show, which ran until 1955. Two years later she starred in the series Date with the Angels, a comedic look at domestic life. White subsequently became a frequent guest on television game shows, including To Tell the Truth, What’s My Line?, and Password. The latter was hosted by Allen Ludden. White and Ludden married in 1963 and were together until his death in 1981.

In 1973 White began appearing on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, a sitcom set in a television newsroom. White earned acclaim for her portrayal of Sue Ann Nivens, the devious and flirtatious host of the station’s “Happy Homemaker” show. She received three Emmy Award nominations for her work, winning in 1975 and 1976. After the series ended in 1977, White remained a fixture on television, starring on The Betty White Show (1977–78) and later appearing in recurring roles on such programs as The Love Boat and Mama’s Family.

The Golden Girls debuted in 1985, starring—in addition to White as the innocent and highly optimistic Rose Nylund—Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty. The series, centred on a group of older women living together in Miami, became a major success. White earned seven Emmy nominations and won the award in 1986. After the show ended in 1992, White played Nylund on the spin-off series The Golden Palace, which ran for one season. White later acted on That ’70s Show, Boston Legal, and the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful. In 1996 she won an Emmy for her guest appearance on The John Larroquette Show.

  • The Golden Girls(From left) Estelle Getty, Rue McClanahan, Beatrice Arthur, and Betty White in the TV series The Golden Girls.© Touchstone TV— Witt/Thomas/Harris Productions
  • (From left to right) Rue McClanahan, Betty White, writer Mark Cherry, and Bea Arthur at a DVD release party for The Golden Girls, December 2004.PRNewsFoto/Buena Vista Home Entertainment/AP Images

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In 2010 White experienced a major surge in popularity, fueled in part by a humorous Super Bowl commercial in which she was tackled during a recreational football game. Fans subsequently launched a Facebook campaign to have the 88-year-old actress host Saturday Night Live. In May 2010 she became the comedy show’s oldest host, and White later received an Emmy Award for her performance. In June Hot in Cleveland debuted on the cable channel TV Land. The sitcom starred White as Elka, the quick-witted caretaker of a home rented by three women. The show ran until 2015. She also hosted and served as an executive producer for Betty White’s Off Their Rockers (2012–14), a reality show in which senior citizens played pranks on unsuspecting younger people. White later hosted Betty White’s Smartest Animals in America (2015).

The cast of Hot in Cleveland (from left to right): Jane Leeves, Betty White, Valerie Bertinelli, and Wendie Malick.Craig T. Mathew—PRNewsFoto/TV Land/AP Images

Although much of her work was for television, White also appeared in several movies. In 1962 she made her feature-film debut in Advise & Consent, and her later movies included the thriller Lake Placid (1999) and the romantic comedies The Proposal (2009) and You Again (2010). In 2019 she voiced the character Bitey White, a teething ring, in the animated feature Toy Story 4.

Betty White.PRNewsFoto/Morris Animal Foundation/AP Images

In addition to her acting, White was noted as an animal rights activist. She penned the memoirs Here We Go Again: My Life in Television (1995) and If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won’t) (2011). Her audiobook recording of the latter won a Grammy Award for best spoken-word album. White was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1995.

40 Year Old Armagnac – Picture of Chef Driven Food Tours, Chicago

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MORE STORIES FROM BIOGRAPHY

Betty White’s affable nature as one of America’s most beloved icons might stem from her own top priority outside of acting: Her love of animals.

“I’ve loved animals since I was in the womb,” White told TV Guide “It is so embedded in me,” she added to Smithsonian Magazine.

That personal passion has often mixed with her professional work. She created, produced and hosted a 1971 animal show called the Pet Set, which featured both wild animals and her celebrity friends’ own pets, with stars like Doris Day and Bob Barker making guest appearances. She also wrote the 2011 book Betty & Friends: My Life at the Zoo and hosted specials, like Hero Dog Awards, Big Cat Week and Betty White Goes Wild — and even lent her voice to the animated series of Pound Puppies.

But it’s what she does when the cameras aren’t rolling that’s most impressive. Throughout her life, White has been a champion for animals in her charity work.

“I’m the luckiest person in the world — my life is divided in absolute half: half animals, half show business,” she told TV Guide.

READ MORE: Before Golden Girls, Betty White Was a Game Show Star

White’s parents started her love of animals

Born in Oak Park, Illinois, on January 17, 1922, she was the only child of Horace and Tess White — who had an orange tabby cat that would often sit on the edge of her crib. “My mother always told me that if Toby didn’t approve, I would have to go back,” White joked to Parade.

Indeed, while most young kids were begging their parents for pets, White says it was often the opposite for her. “I was the lucky little girl who had parents who went for a walk and they’d come home with a dog or a cat,” she told TV Guide. “‘He followed us home, Betty. Can we keep him?’ ”

“Both my mother and father were tremendous animal lovers,” she said to Smithsonian Magazine. “They imbued in me the fact that, to me, there isn’t an animal on the planet that I don’t find fascinating and want to learn more about.”

Betty White with dogs Bandy, Stormy and Danny in 1954.

Photo: NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

She’s devoted much of her time to helping zoos

That desire led to many trips to the zoo, and eventually, she started working with the Los Angeles Zoo in the 1960s. “My interest started early on, tagging after my mom and dad, who went to the zoo often, not just to please their little girl, but because they enjoyed the experience,” she wrote in her book.

“I got involved with the Los Angeles Zoo because I was kind of shocked that Los Angeles had such a poor zoo inside,” she told AARP. “I’ve never been one to stand outside and criticize. I’d rather get inside and see what’s going on, see how I can help.”

During her time as a member of the board at the zoo, state-of-the-art chimpanzee, orangutan and gorilla exhibits have been added, and she’s gotten to know the animals well. She’s also witnessed some notable animal antics over her more than 50 years of service.

“I spent two hours watching while this baby , newly born, tried to get up,” she told Smithsonian. “He really had to work at it. I stood there and watched the whole time. Just about the time he finally got all four legs under him…not his mother, but it was like Aunt Maude, one of the adult camels, came over, as if to say, ‘Oh, what a beautiful baby,’ she touched him with her nose and splat! Down he went. He had to start all over again.”

White is well aware of the critics of the zoo system and works to combat that negative image.

“Zoos don’t only exhibit animals; they do a lot of wonderful conservation work,” she told AARP. She explained further to Smithsonian: “Many people have a closed mind on zoos. They think no animal should be in captivity, they should all be in the wild in their own habitat. Well, of course, that is a myth.”

Betty White in 2010

Photo: Michael Kovac/FilmMagic

Animal welfare and health are White’s top focuses

White’s volunteer work goes beyond just the zoo in Los Angeles. Since the 1970s, she’s also been working with the Morris Animal Foundation, which “advances animal health by funding only research that meets the highest scientific standards” according to .

She was drawn to the organization because of her approach to animals. “I’m not into animal rights. I’m only into animal welfare and health,” she told TV Guide, adding that the Morris Animal Foundation funds “health studies for dogs, cats, lizards and wildlife.”

As a president emeritus, she’s seen the organization through much of its breakthrough work, which includes developing the feline leukemia vaccine, the parvovirus vaccine and Potomac horse fever vaccine.

White works closely with the Los Angeles ASPCA, as well as the guide dog school, The Seeing Eye. “The Seeing Eye takes training these dogs quite seriously,” White told Parade. “By providing well-trained guide dogs and training recipients to work with these dogs, The Seeing Eye empowers and changes people’s lives for the better.”

White has also been made an honorary forest ranger by the Forest Service and tries to help out when her schedule allows.

“I have this very expensive habit,” she told Parade of her animal volunteer work. “Thankfully, my work makes it possible for me to support and volunteer my time with many different animal welfare organizations.”

Happy 98th Birthday, Betty White!

What do you get for an entertainment legend on their 98th birthday? When it comes to Betty White, the actress told Parade magazine in 2018 that she wishes for the same thing every year — her celebrity crush, Robert Redford.

And while Redford has yet to materialize — perhaps he’ll pop out of a giant birthday cake for her on her 100th birthday! — White sure does have a lot to be grateful for on her big day (Jan. 17).

To start, the Golden Girl remains healthy and active — she was caught by cameras out and about in Beverly Hills, beaming in a turquoise ensemble a day before her birthday. She also remains incredibly relevant, lending her voice to animated features Toy Story 4 and Trouble, as well as the Toy Story spin-off TV series Forky Asks a Question last year. Meanwhile, a 2018 documentary about her life, Betty White: First Lady of Television, dropped on Netflix this week, ahead of her big day.

And in early January, Canuck Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek, 79, who is currently battling stage IV pancreatic cancer, noted that he’d nominate Betty White to replace him as host of the game show should he step down. Who would argue with that?

Hurt Me Tomorrow

This ain’t a good time
But when is it ever
I know the perfect time
And baby that’s never
So don’t you dare leave me now
Throw my heart on the ground
Cause tonight ain’t the night for sorrow
But you can hurt me tomorrow
Ok, it’s on you
Aha, ok

I used to be a strange fruit, Billy Holiday
Then you got me by my roots, took the pain away
I tried to question our direction, that was my mistake
I had to ask you where we going baby, Marvin Gaye
I used to do it like Sinatra, do it my way
Now I’m the Fugee of my Lauren Hill that got away
I though we had an at last love, Etta James
But now I’m wondering…
If what I heard it’s true
Then I know what you came to do
Love may be blind but I’m looking at you
So before you pull the trigger, did you ever consider

This ain’t a good time
But when is it ever
I know the perfect time
And baby that’s never
So don’t you dare leave me now
Throw my heart on the ground
Cause tonight ain’t the night for sorrow
But you can hurt me tomorrow
You can hurt me…
You can hurt me tomorrow…
You can hurt me tomorrow girl
Save it for tomorrow

If you can take a rain check on a stormy night
Then I will love you till you’re old, like Betty White
You can hurt me any other day, pick a fight
But not on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday night
And not the weekend either cause I got a song to write
I promise I’mma hear you out when the time is right
Let’s have a talk, August 7th, 2099
At your place or mine?

This ain’t a good time
But when is it ever
I know the perfect time
And baby that’s never
So don’t you dare leave me now
Throw my heart on the ground
Cause tonight ain’t the night for sorrow
But you can hurt me tomorrow
Hey why you turn around and walk away
I know you got a lot to say
And I really want to talk about it
Just not today
Just not today

Is there an instrument to measure all the heart ache in
A looking glass so we can see where all the magic went
I need a button, I can push so we can start again
Cause girl you bring me to my knees, Nancy Kerrigan
This ain’t a good time
But when is it ever

This ain’t a good time
But when is it ever
I know the perfect time
And baby that’s never
So don’t you dare leave me now
Throw my heart on the ground
Cause tonight ain’t the night for sorrow
But you can hurt me tomorrow
You can hurt me…
You can hurt me tomorrow…
You can hurt me tomorrow girl
Save it for tomorrow