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The Girl with the Pet Dragon

Photo by: Oolong

Betty White doesn’t really have a pet dragon, but I bet she would if she could.  She adores animals –fast or slow, tame or wild, or on the land or in the water. She considered Koko the gorilla her friend, and she fell in love with a great white whale named Beethoven.  She has a collection of stuffed animals, too.

Betty’s love affair with all creatures big and small are just some of the many anecdotes she recounts in her book, If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won’t), published in 2011.  She was eighty-nine years old when she wrote her latest memoir long hand and starring in the hit television comedy Hot in Cleveland.  It’s a wonder she found the time – or the energy.

There are no surprises here, but some great stories.

Okay, I was surprised to learn that Ms. White joined The Mary Tyler Moore Show as the Happy Homemaker, Sue Ann Niven, in its fourth season, and at most she appeared in less than half of the twenty-two episodes produced each year.  I distinctly remember her entering the newsroom to look for Lou or rub Murray’s bald spot at least once every program.

With Betty playing against type, her husband Allen Ludden was frequently asked, “How close to Sue Ann is Betty?”  To which he replied, “They’re really the same character – except Betty can’t cook.”

I wasn’t surprised that Ludden was the love of her life, and she believes that he is always with her.

Betty admits she occasionally meets someone she might like to know better, but she has always preferred men who are older than she is.  At her age, they’re very hard to come by.

As far as getting older, Ms. White points out that it helps to be in sound health and have a good sense of humor, while best friends are a joy all life through.  They gathered around on her televised 90th birthday party to wish her well.

During the special, some very good-looking young men swept her off her feet in a song and dance number.  Although no cougar, she is young-at-heart and handled the situation with the spirit of a twenty-something.

She has no comment on getting a tattoo.

© 2012 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

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Betty White: Not Just Hot, But Trustworthy, Too.

Would you trust this woman? Yes! Yes! And, yes! Photo by: Hysterical Bertha

Every time Allen Ludden, the bespectacled, gentlemanly host of the popular 1960s television game show Password, proposed to the queen of television Betty White, and he proposed often over the course of a year, she said “no.”  She said “no” for so long that when she finally said “yes” Ludden had used up most of his vacation courting her.

Rather than waiting until there was more time to plan a lavish ceremony and go someplace exotic for their honeymoon, the couple opted instead for a quickie wedding in Las Vegas followed by a short holiday in Laguna Beach, California.

But sometimes there are hitches when getting hitched.  Allen, who had never missed a plane in his life, missed his plane from New York to Los Angeles because he was caught in a traffic jam on his way to the airport.  Betty, upset and angry, thought it was a bad sign.

But she believed in him.  When Allen caught the next flight out, the soon-to-be-newlyweds were on their way to Las Vegas as planned. Betty’s parents were witnesses to the ceremony that took place in the wedding suite at the Sands Hotel on June 14, 1963.

The Luddens had a strong, happy marriage. It lasted until Allen’s death eighteen years later. In her book In Person Betty wondered why she hesitated for so long before accepting his proposal. Yet she knows that they stayed together because they thought of themselves as a unit, rather than two separate entities

Ah, it’s a matter of trust.  She trusted him to have her back, and he trusted her.  Trust goes a long way in building a relationship.

It turns out many of us trust Miss White, not in love and marriage, but when shopping.  In a recent survey, more respondents named Betty as the celebrity whose endorsement they were most likely to consider when deciding between one brand and another.  Paris Hilton, not so much.  She was at the bottom of the list.

A sense of humor helps, too.  And Betty has that in spades.

She starred in sitcoms in the fifties, including Life with Elizabeth and Date with the Angels.  Okay, not too many of us remember either show. But who can forget her as Sue Ann Nivens, the host of “The Happy Homemaker” on the Mary Tyler Moore Show? She was ingratiating on camera and just the opposite in the office.

Or what about sweet and caring, if a bit naïve, Rose Nylund on Golden Girls?  Now that was a character audiences could get behind.

As Catherine Piper on Boston Legal, she said what she thought, never playing softball.  Telling her boss, lawyer Alan Shore, what she thought of him, she declared, “Most people aren’t able to see that beneath your slick and sensitive exterior, deep down you really are douche bag.” Still, he kept her from a life behind bars for murdering her murderous boyfriend.

Betty’s role in a 2010 Snickers commercial brought her new fans. After a vigorous Facebook campaign lobbying for her to host Saturday Night Live, she finally said “yes.”   In her introduction on the show, she noted, “Many of you know I’m 88 and a half years old.  It’s great to be here for a number of reasons.”

Now she’s beloved in Hot in Cleveland.  Paris, no longer hot, can take a cue from Betty White.

© 2011 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved