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In 2013, the Guinness Book of World Records recognized Betty White as the female entertainer with the longest television career. The actress also cultivated a successful career in film.
On Friday, Dec. 31, it was announced that the legendary actress had died at the age of 99.
Whether on the big or small screen, the beloved five-time Emmy Award winner is recognized for her comedy and for being a trailblazer in the industry. White was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1988 and received the Screen Actors Guild’s Life Achievement Award in 2010. White was also the first woman to produce her own sitcom in Hollywood with the 1950 series Life With Elizabeth.
From The Golden Girls to the game show Password, The Hollywood Reporter takes a look at some of the Golden Girl’s most notable performances.
Life With Elizabeth
The show was built from a collection of comedic shorts centered on a married couple, Elizabeth (White) and Alvin (Del Moore). Life With Elizabeth was produced and filmed at a Los Angeles television station where both Moore and White worked as staff members. White’s role on the show earned the star her first Primetime Emmy Award nomination.
Throughout the 1960s and ‘70s, White made frequent appearances as a celebrity guest on the popular game show. Over the years, White was dubbed the “first lady of game shows” and went on to win a Daytime Emmy for outstanding game show host for Just Men!. White and Password host Allen Ludden eventually married.
Date With the Angels
For two seasons of the 1950s comedy show, White portrayed Vickie Angel, a new bride to insurance salesman husband Gus (Bill Williams). The series centered on the newlyweds, their friends and neighbors as they found themselves in comical scenarios.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show
A longtime friend of star Mary Tyler Moore, White played Sue Ann Nivens, written as an “icky sweet Betty White type.” White played Nivens for four years, and the role won her two Emmys for outstanding continuing performance by a supporting actress in a comedy series.
The Betty White Show
Following the success of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, White received her own series, in which she played actress Joyce Whitman. During the show, her character lands her dream role, only to discover that the director she must work with is her ex-husband. The show lasted only one season.
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
During his reign as the talk show’s host, Johnny Carson was known for having recurring sketches featuring prominent comedians. One of his sketches included White, where they portrayed Adam and Eve. White and Carson would go on to reprise those roles two years later.
The Golden Girls
Known to be one of her most successful and memorable roles, White starred as Rose Nylund on the long-running NBC sitcom. Also starring Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty, The Golden Girls lasted for seven seasons. The show received high praise from critics and won several awards including three Golden Globes for best television series (musical or comedy) and two Primetime Emmys for outstanding comedy series. Each of the show’s actresses received their own Emmys. Following the end of the show, a spinoff with White, McClanahan and Getty, titled The Golden Palace, in which the trio buy and run a hotel, lasted one season.
The Love Boat
White guest-starred on The Love Boat for five episodes as Betsy Boucher, a friend to Aunt Silvia (Carol Channing). In one of her appearances in 1982, White performed a song-and-dance number with Channing.
For five seasons, White portrayed Catherine Piper, a childhood friend and secretary to Alan Shore (James Spader) on the drama. However, things grew complicated for White’s character when one of Alan’s clients killed his mother and neighbor with a cast-iron skillet. Afraid he would commit another murder, White’s Catherine kills him — with a skillet, of course — and is tried for murder. She is acquitted, but eventually fired.
The Bold and the Beautiful
From 2006-09, White starred on the popular soap as Ann Douglas, Ridge Forrester’s grandmother. Though the actress was known to make audiences laugh, White portrayed a more dramatic role as Ann, a mother who ignored her husband’s abuse of their daughter. White’s role on the soap marked the actress’ last recurring or regular role on a television series until returning to star in Hot in Cleveland.
The family comedy starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds features White as Reynolds’ eccentric grandmother, Annie, aka “Gammy.” With a myriad of comical moments from the film, including a dance sequence with Bullock, the film was a success, grossing $194.3 million at the domestic box office (adjusted for inflation). The role also led to White having a kinship with the actors, in particular with Reynolds, with whom she portrayed a mock feud in a parody. Following news of White’s death, Reynolds paid tribute to the actress, writing on social media, “The world looks different now. She was great at defying expectation. She managed to grow very old and somehow, not old enough. We’ll miss you, Betty. Now you know the secret.”
Saturday Night Live
After more than 500,000 Facebook users signed a petition for the then-88-year old to host the comedy show, White landed the gig in 2010. She became the oldest person to have ever hosted the comedy sketch series. The Golden Girls star returned for a sketch in the show’s 40th anniversary special in 2015 alongside Kristen Wiig, Bradley Cooper, Bill Hader, Fred Armisen and more.
Hot in Cleveland
Premiering in 2010, the sitcom marked TV Land’s first original scripted series. The cast featured Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves and Wendie Malick as a group of veterans from the entertainment industry in Los Angeles. White starred as a sassy caretaker, Elka, who lives in their guest house. White was originally set to only appear as a guest star but was promoted to series regular. The series lasted for six seasons and ended in June 2015. White’s former co-star Carol Burnett guest-starred on the series.
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