Betty White at the 1988 Emmy Awards, August 1, 1988 - Alan Light/Wikimedia Commons
CAIRO – 17 January 2018:Celebrated comedic actress and animal rights activist Betty White turns 96 today, on January 17, 2018. A veteran of the Hollywood Golden Age, White has held her own as an accomplished actress since the 1950's and has never lost her appeal, beloved by generation upon generation of fans.
White was born in 1922 in Illinois’s Oak Park, an only child. Her family quickly moved to Los Angeles, where White grew up and eventually got her start in show business by working as an assistant at the nearby TV station.
From humble beginnings White eventually managed to work her way into the screen, first by co-hosting Al Jarvis's show "Hollywood on Television"which eventually led to making her first sit-com, "Life With Elizabeth", putting White as one of the few female producers of the time. The show earned Betty her first Emmy nomination, and a new star was ready to start shining.
In 2013, the Guinness Book of World Records wrote that White had the single longest career of any TV actress. Here’s a look at some of White’s most memorable roles, showcasing her range and sheer level of talent:
"The Mary Tyler Moore Show"(1970 – 1977)
It was this sitcom that helped White rise to fame and earn her several more Emmy awards. This long-running sitcom revolved around the life and troubles of independent career woman Mary Tyler Moore, portrayed by the titular actress. White portrayed Sue Anne Nivens, star of a show within a show called ‘The Happy Homemaker’, where she gave out an image of a sweet, perfect housewife on-screen, while in reality she was cruel, vicious and mean, especially towards her rival, Moore. The role marked a new start in White’s career, as it broke her free from the typical sort of characters she was cast as.
"The Golden Girls" (1985 – 1992)
Starring alongside Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty, White went down in history as one of "The Golden Girls", stars of a critically acclaimed sitcom about four divorced women living together; the four women learn to live with all their outrageous problems and help out when they can. White was cast as the dimwitted Rose Nylund, who despite being a little on the dull side, managed to put in a lot of heart and comedy.
"The Proposal" (2009)
Directed by Anne Fletcher, this romantic comedy helped bring the wonder of White to a whole new generation. Starring Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock, the plot follows Margaret Tate (Bullock), editor at a New York publisher who pushes her assistant, Andrew Paxton (Reynolds) around. Things get a lot worse for him when Tate discovers that her visa has expired and she risks being deported back to Canada; in order to remain in the country, she’s got to get Paxton to marry her. White portrays Paxton’s sweet yet cunning grandmother, Anne, who’s eager to see her grandson married.
"Saturday Night Live" (1975 – Ongoing)
The long-running comedy sketch show was with White’s presence after a Facebook poll saw 500,000 people wishing to see her host an episode of SNL. White became the oldest person to ever host the show at the age of 88, and used this to her advantage when she remarked in her introduction that she had no idea what Facebook was, and after learning about it, considered it a huge waste of time.
"Lake Placid" (1999)
White got to indulge in a more foul-mouthed side by starring in this Jaws-esque thriller directed by Steve Miner. The film follows the efforts of three people to stop the rampage of a giant man-eating crocodile from hunting down tourists by the titular lake. In a nod to her animal loving side, White’s character, Mrs. Delores Bickerman, was feeding the crocodile her own cattle.
"Advise & Consent" (1962)
A rare foray into dramatic acting, Otto Preminger's film marked White’s first film debut, where she played a young female senator. Based on a Pulitzer Prize winning novel, the film helped lift the veil to the public of what goes on behind the scenes inWashington, and how the personal lives of the politicians could bleed into the professional field.