Just How Busy is Betty White?

Issue 56 - Just How Busy Is Betty White: Betty on set of Hot in Cleveland
David Strick

White pals around on the set with the show's director, Andy Cadiff.

A 30-day look at the sudden new life of an 88-year-old’s legendary career.

The last time betty white was this hot was 1985, when she appeared as the dimwitted but lovable Rose Nylund on NBC’s The Golden Girls.

Now, 25 years later, the veteran of more than 63 years in showbiz is among Hollywood’s most in-demand talents.

“I call her my Kobe Bryant,” jokes APA’s Jeff Witjas, her longtime agent. “Whatever situation she’s in, she delivers.”

Indeed, White’s appearances — in what could have been a novelty act or a series of let’s-make-an-old-person-joke punchline performances — hardly has grown stale. Instead, White seems to have transcended the potential kitsch of her casting (her comeback kickoff was during February’s Super Bowl, where a Snickers commercial saw her getting tackled to the mud) to become an industry rarity, particularly for someone her age: a regularly working performer. Since her second coming, White has been on the receiving end of countless offers, including a hit series (TV Land’s Hot in Cleveland); a two-book deal with G.P. Putnam’s Sons; multiple TV guest spots; induction into the California Hall of Fame; and even becoming an honorary forest ranger.

“I’ll be 89 years old in January,” White says. “You can’t ask for anything better than to still be working this much in a business you love.”

Balancing how much is too much is paramount for Witjas, who says he’s careful about choosing the right projects that introduce White to a wider demographic. He did advise her to “diversify” her portfolio with a much-anticipated Saturday Night Live hosting job in May that delivered a 8.8 rating, SNL’s highest since November 2008.

So, how much is she working? This day-by-day would put some 40-year-olds to shame:

DAY 1: Thursday, Oct. 21 
Back in Los Angeles after filming the Hallmark Hall of Fame telefilm The Lost Valentine in Atlanta, White spends the morning at the annual meeting of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association. Finished with her GLAZA chairwoman duties, she heads to a photo shoot in the Valley for the cover of her new book, If You Ask Me. In the evening, White attends Comedy Central’s Night of Too Many Stars on-air phone bank for autism education, alongside Tom Hanks.

DAY 2: Friday, Oct. 22 
In the morning, she begins wardrobe fittings for Season 2 of Hot in Cleveland at CBS Studio Center in Studio City before heading to a lunch with the GLAZA president.

DAY 3: Saturday, Oct. 23
Break day. White spends time catching up on correspondence and visiting friends.

DAY 4: Sunday, Oct. 24
She takes a day trip up the coast to Montecito for a Guide Dogs for the Blind event.

DAY 5: Monday, Oct. 25
News breaks that White will lend her voice to Ken Daurio’s animated film The Lorax, while she begins shooting promos for Cleveland. In the evening, White goes to dinner with the winner of the Seeing Eye charity auction to benefit the guide-dog school in Los Angeles.

DAY 6: Tuesday, Oct. 26
She heads to Studio City to shoot more promos for Cleveland.

DAY 7: Wednesday, Oct. 27
Media day. White spends most of it doing phone interviews.

DAY 8: Thursday, Oct. 28
Reports surface that White plans to judge a contest to find the world’s happiest and healthiest cat for the Morris Animal Foundation. She has lunch at the zoo during the day.

DAY 9: Friday, Oct. 29
In the morning, she shoots a video in Santa Monica for the Chicago Museum of Broadcast Communications for friend and museum founder Bruce DuMont. Afterward, she hosts a signing for her updated book, Here We Go Again: My Life in Television, at a nearby Barnes & Noble.

DAY 10: Saturday, Oct. 30
She visits her personal shopper in Beverly Hills to update her fall and winter wardrobe.

DAY 11: Sunday, Oct. 31 
White appears on the cover of Parade magazine speaking out in support of gay marriage, then spends a quiet Halloween at home catching up on correspondence and sorting through her mail.

DAY 12: Monday, Nov. 1
White releases a voice message in support of Missouri’s Proposition B, which would improve the conditions of dog-breeding farms. (The next day, it won.) That afternoon, she heads to Studio City for her first day of Cleveland rehearsals.

DAY 13: Tuesday, Nov. 2 
TV Land announces that White’s former co-star Mary Tyler Moore will guest star on Cleveland’s Season 2 premiere.

DAY 14: Wednesday, Nov. 3
White returns to set for Cleveland rehearsals.

DAY 15: Thursday, Nov. 4 
White receives the Charlie Chaplin Comedian Award at the Brittania Awards in Century City. Also, her likeness appears on the cover of a PETA comic book, though she does not have an attachment to the organization.

DAY 16: Friday, Nov. 5
Show night! White heads to Studio City for the first live taping of Season 2.

DAY 17: Saturday, Nov. 6
White releases a letter on the Museum of Broadcast Communications website asking for contributions.

DAY 18: Sunday, Nov. 7
White meets with her assistant to discuss her schedule before meeting friends
for dinner.

DAY 19: MONDAY, Nov. 8 
White hops on a flight from Los Angeles to Washington.

DAY 20: Tuesday, Nov. 9
She fulfills a childhood dream by being made an honorary forest ranger. That evening, White is among those honoring Tina Fey at the Kennedy Center.

DAY 21: Wednesday, Nov. 10 
White boards a 9:10 a.m. flight from D.C. to LAX. After landing, she heads
to the Cleveland set.

DAY 22: Thursday, Nov. 11 
The actress attends blocking rehearsals for Cleveland. White also preps for upcoming projects, including the Dec. 7 release of her new DVD, Betty White: In Black and White.

DAY 23: FRIDAY, Nov. 12
Show night! White prepares for the live taping of  Episode 2 of Cleveland.

DAY 24: Saturday, Nov. 13
White meets with her personal assistant to autograph photos and go through fan mail.

DAY 25: Sunday, Nov. 14 
Break day.

DAY 26: Monday, Nov. 15
She makes the drive to Studio City for a table read for Episode 3.

DAY 27: Tuesday, Nov. 16
White meets with her agent before a TV Land-hosted SAG screening and Q&A.

DAY 28: Wednesday, Nov. 17
Cleveland rehearsals in Studio City.

DAY 29: Thursday, Nov. 18
White has blocking rehearsals in Studio City.

DAY 30: Friday, Nov. 19
Show night! White heads to Studio City for the live taping of Episode 3.