Betty White cannot believe her recent run of luck, winning a fifth primetime Emmy last year for hosting “SNL” and being a strong contender this year for her supporting roles on the sitcom “Hot in Cleveland” and the telefilm The Lost Valentine.” Chatting by phone with senior editors Rob Licuria and Chris Beachum she admitted, “I’m going to be 90 next January, and I’m blessed with good health for which I’m deeply grateful. To have all this good stuff happen, and I’m still having the same kind of fun I’ve had for the last 63 years in the business. You’ve got to taste that and appreciate it.”
White earned the first of her 16 Emmy bids back in 1951 for the laffer “Life with Elizabeth.” She lost to Gertrude Berg who was reprising her radio role as Molly Golberg on “The Goldbergs.” White went on to win back-to-back Comedy Supporting Actress for “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (1975, 1976).
White was the first of “The Golden Girls” to win an Emmy in 1986. Rue McClanahan won the following year. Then, when both Bea Arthur and Estelle Getty prevailed in 1988, the show became only the second — after “All in the Family” — to have the entire ensemble take home Emmys. (“Will & Grace” has since pulled off this same feat.) During our chat, White made special mention of the Guest Comedy Actress award she won in 1996 for playing an exaggerated version of herself on “The John Larroquette Show.”
She made Daytime Emmys history in 1983 when she became the first woman to win the game show hosting award for “Just Men.” That win was bittersweet as it came just two years after the death of her beloved husband Allen Ludden who had claimed this same award in 1976 for “Password All-Stars.”
Regarding her awards success, White revealed, “Each one is different, and each one is very special. I know it’s so corny and such a cliche, but the exciting part of the Emmys is the nomination. You are singled out from a lot of people. By the time you get to the actual award itself, you’ve had your thrill.”
After being part of the inductions into the TV Hall of Fame of Mary Tyler Moore, Mark Goodson, Dinah Shore and CBS exec Ethel Winant, White was delighted to join this august group in 1996. And, she said, she was thrilled that Bea Arthur was also made a member shortly before her passing several years ago.