Photo: ‘Celebrating Betty White: America’s Golden Girl’
NBC’s ‘Celebrating Betty White: America’s Golden Girl’ aired last week to celebrate the legendary actress Betty White who passed away at the age of 99, just shy of her 100th birthday on January 17. The special featured President Joe Biden, Cher, Tina Fey, Mary Tyler Moore, among others who united to reflect on Betty White’s endearing impact on Hollywood. For those who missed the hour-long special, it is now available for streaming on Peacock and Hulu.
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The special enlists the help of Goldie Hawn, Jimmy Fallon, Tracy Morgan, Bryan Cranston, Ted Danson, Mary Steenburg, Joel McHale, Wendie Malick, Jay Leno, Anthony Mackie, Valerie Bertinelli and Jean Smart. According to NBC, “The hour will include clips that best capture White’s irreverent tone, spirit and impeccable comedic timing that are a hallmark of her decades-long career.” The special is meant to be a dedicated moment for fans to, “recount their favorite memories and reveal untold stories to commemorate the life and legacy of the trailblazing television star. The telecast will include clips and never-before-seen footage that best capture White’s irreverent tone, spirit and impeccable comedic timing that are a hallmark of her decades-long career.”
One of the most powerful moments of the special was a touching performance by Cher who performed “I Believe in Love.” Of course, White was known for her infectious love for animals and being a dedicated advocate for animals. “She was a true American icon but what really stood out about her is that she was exactly who we all want in a friend–warm, caring, authentic and always fun,” Cher stated just before her performance.
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Celebrating Betty White’s Unforgettable Career
In 1952, Betty White’s acting career was catapulted with a lead role in the black and white television series ‘Life with Elizabeth,’ co-starring Del Moore as her husband, Alvin. The series followed Moore and White as newlyweds adjusting to married life. The show masterfully showcased White’s comedic timing and legendary humor with multiple comedy sketches for every episode. With a series of successful shows that followed, Betty White soon landed a role on ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ playing Sue Ann Nivens, a provocative television personality whose complex character complemented White’s relentless wit and helped push the boundaries of women archetypes on television.
In 1985, White became our beloved Rose Nylund in ‘The Golden Girls.’ A well-meaning and lovable housemate who was one of four women living together as housemates in Florida. Despite her rose-colored glasses, Rose consistently delivered penetrating comebacks with impeccable timing. The show’s following grew over the years and is still very much loved today. It’s a show that surpasses generations and celebrates the nuances of age and femininity.
Over the course of her decades-long career, Betty White accumulated a Grammy, Emmy, and a SAG Award that solidified her iconic status in Hollywood.
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Key Moments from NBC’s Tribute to Betty White
Not many Hollywood greats have world leaders honoring them on television. Alas, not everyone is Betty White. President Biden stepped on stage and offered a moving speech that celebrated the love audiences have for Betty White. “She challenged convention. With every laugh and smile, she opened our hearts. But above all, she moved our souls and the soul of our nation.”
Mary Tyler Moore spoke for the special and admitted that White’s role on ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ was meant to be very short-lived. “It was supposed to be a one-time shop. But she was so good, so great, so inventive that you couldn’t not have her back on.” She continued that Sue Ann, “… represented all the little evil corners and dark places that we have inside us. And they cheered her on.” She described White’s character, “everyone’s delicious pixie.”
Tracy Morgan paid tribute to White by reflecting on his time working with the actress on an episode of NBC’s ‘30 Rock.’ Morgan said, “I’ve worked with a lot of people in my career, a lot of top dogs in my career. Betty White was the Lebron James of comedy. She’s scoring.”
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Goldie Hawn, another Hollywood icon who has effortlessly captured our hearts, reminded viewers of Betty White’s persistent fight against injustice. Hawn celebrated White for using her self-titled show as a platform to fight against racial injustice. Despite the intense resistance from audiences and execs, White hired Arthur Duncan, a Black dancer, to become a performer and a recurring face on her show. White refused to succumb to pressure and consistently championed Duncan’s presence on her show.
White became a force to be reckoned with and maintained a successful show. Anthony Mackie explained on the special, “She was asked to take Arthur Duncan off the show and she said no. For her to do that in 1954 on a variety show paved the way for so many people after him.” Mackie continued, “I’m here because of that. For her to say no, it changed the face of television. It was that type of humility and strength and backbone I try to carry in my career every day.”
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Betty White’s Lasting Legacy
Along with her trailblazing footprint on television, Betty White’s lifelong love and advocacy for animals is remembered by the animal organizations with whom she stayed very active. “My preoccupation with animals is an open secret,” Betty revealed in her book, “Betty & Friends: My Life at the Zoo.” When the book was first published, the proceeds went to GLAZA and the L.A. Zoo, where Betty White spent her 90th birthday.
For decades, White remained a trustee for the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association along with the Morris Animal Foundation. In 1971, White became a creator and host for the television show, ‘The Pet Set,’ that interviewed celebrities along with their pets. Betty White placed a high value on living a life full of love, laughter, and compassion. Soon after her passing, fans from across the globe donated to their local animal shelters in Betty White’s honor.
Cast: Betty White, Goldie Hawn, President Joe Biden, Tracy Morgan, Mary Tyler Moore, Anthony Mackie
By Gina Michele Yaniz
Click here to read The Hollywood Insider’s CEO Pritan Ambroase’s love letter to Black Lives Matter, in which he tackles more than just police reform, press freedom and more – click here.
An excerpt from the love letter: The Hollywood Insider’s CEO/editor-in-chief Pritan Ambroase affirms, “The Hollywood Insider fully supports the much-needed Black Lives Matter movement. We are actively, physically and digitally a part of this global movement. We will continue reporting on this major issue of police brutality and legal murders of Black people to hold the system accountable. We will continue reporting on this major issue with kindness and respect to all Black people, as each and every one of them are seen and heard.
Just a reminder, that the Black Lives Matter movement is about more than just police brutality and extends into banking, housing, education, medical, infrastructure, etc. We have the space and time for all your stories. We believe in peaceful/non-violent protests and I would like to request the rest of media to focus on 95% of the protests that are peaceful and working effectively with positive changes happening daily. Media has a responsibility to better the world and The Hollywood Insider will continue to do so.”
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Gina Michele Yaniz is a writer and digital media content creator with a deep love for storytelling. Charmed by the notable influence of the entertainment industry, Gina is passionate about uplifting the voices of artists and celebrating powerful material. She likes to embody the philosophy of writing through a non-judgmental and a genuine perspective while expanding the perception of film industry. Along with Hollywood Insider, Gina values the responsibility the media holds and wishes to use her writing to provide meaningful content. During her free time, Gina loves to watch period pieces, stand-up comedy, and indulges on her avid interest for reading articles on self-care.