01.17.10 9:45 AM ET
Betty White’s 15 Funniest Moments
Betty White celebrates her 90th birthday today. From The Golden Girls to Saturday Night Live, The Mary Tyler Moore Show to her music-video debut, watch clips of America’s favorite nonagenarian.
Late Show With David Letterman: Drinkin’ Vodka With Betty White
Betty White may now be the same age as David Letterman’s mother, but vodka is still one of her favorite hobbies. While on Late Show last year to talk about her upcoming birthday, she bonded with Dave over two glasses of Grey Goose. But while Dave suddenly opted to swig straight from the bottle, the vodka seemed a bit much for Betty: she sprayed her mouthful out.
Saturday Night Live: On Facebook and What to Shake a Stick At
Times have changed since Betty White was a young actress on Life With Elizabeth, but her wit and charm have only gotten better. She showed off her comedic chops while hosting Saturday Night Live last May and in the opening monologue shared her views on Facebook (“I have to say, it sounds like a huge waste of time”) and SNL’s live-taping process (live taping may have been the norm in her Life With Elizabeth days, but she doesn’t “know what this show’s excuse is”).
‘I’m Still Hot’: Her Brings All the Boys to the Yard
Anyone under the impression that White is simply a sweet old lady clearly hasn’t seen her music-video debut in “I’m Still Hot,” a song by electro pop artist Luciana. In the video, White spits rhymes like “I will get you sweaty ‘cause I’m the big Betty” and “I rock your world with my cheesecake” while surrounded by a plethora of muscular men in shiny (and tiny) gold shorts. As she so eloquently put it, “I may be a senior, so what! I’m still hot!”
Hot in Cleveland: She Will Cut You
Who could forget White’s performance in her current television gig, Hot in Cleveland. Cheesecake? From donning shockingly bright red locks and threatening to “cut” her castmates, to the many, many times she has likened them to hookers, some of White’s spunkiest TV moments have come from her role as Elka Ostrovsky.
The Golden Girls: This One Time, in St. Olaf …
What would the elderly ladies of South Florida have been without the delightfully naive Rose Nylund? When she wasn’t regaling Dorothy, Blanche, and Ma (a.k.a. Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty) with tales of her quaint, cow-filled childhood in St. Olaf, Minn., she played the sitcom’s clueless straight woman to perfection. White won an Emmy for her role, and the show, which ran from 1985 to 1992, nabbed two Emmys for Outstanding Comedy Series. In this classic condom scene, fans learn that Rose isn’t as innocent as she appears.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show: The Happy, Back-Stabbing Homemaker
Before White played a golden girl, she played a mean girl. As The Mary Tyler Moore Show’s Sue Ann Nivens—the catty, man-hungry host of the fictional lifestyle TV show The Happy Homemaker—White perfected the art of dissing her rivals through a tightly clenched smile. She was both friend and competitor to Moore’s younger, more vivacious character, and she nurtured a longtime (though unfilled) crush on newsman Lou Grant, played by Ed Asner. In this famous episode, Phyllis Lindstrom, played by Cloris Leachman, confronts Nivens about her affair with her husband. Catfiiiight!
Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson: Classic Potty Mouth
Perhaps White’s “catty” act isn’t such an act: In November 2008, while talking politics with the Late Late Show’s Craig Ferguson, White revealed her true feelings about one Sarah from Alaska. (Hint: They involve the words “crazy” and “bitch.”) Ferguson’s response? Stunned silence.
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
Although her hosting debut for Saturday Night Live didn’t happen until last year, White’s no stranger to sketch comedy. In Tonight Show appearances throughout the 1970s and ’80s, White teamed up with Johnny Carson in a series of skits, creating comedy gold. Exhibit A: this popular bit starring a cynical middle-aged Tarzan and Jane. Props to White for her willingness to wear an animal-skin mini-toga in front of millions!
Super Bowl 2010: Shilling for Snickers
You know an actor’s made it—or at least making a comeback—when she cameos in a Super Bowl ad. (Case in point: Richard Dean Anderson’s buzzed-about MacGyver MasterCard commercial from 2006. Hello, MacGruber movie!) In one of this year’s most popular ads during the big game, White and fellow octogenarian Abe Vigoda revealed the horrible side effects of a diet lacking sufficient Snickers nutrition. The commercial clearly stretches the truth because, come on—in what alternate universe would Betty White not kick butt on the field?
Screen Actors Guild Awards: Humble and Hilarious
The headline from the 2010 SAG Awards may have been Inglourious Basterds upsetting Avatar for Best Ensemble, but for many who watched, nothing topped White’s irreverent acceptance speech for her much-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award. Let’s hope Sandra Bullock forgives her …
The Tonight Show With Jay Leno: Can Betty White Save Late Night?
Who else would a beleaguered late-night comic turn to but White? In a Wizard of Oz–themed cold open for Jay Leno’s return to The Tonight Show in March 2010, White helped elevate the act from hokey to (dare we say) hip. It’s official: Betty’s back.
Life With Elizabeth: In the Beginning…
White may now be “television’s longest-working actress,” as The Wall Street Journal once reported—but it all began with her breakout role in the 1950s sitcom Life With Elizabeth. As in the rival series I Love Lucy, this one concerns a mischievous, headstrong suburban housewife (White) who is constantly testing the sanity of her husband, Alvin (played by Del Moore)—and vice versa.
Ugly Betty: High Four!
Sometimes you play the mean girl, sometimes you get your hand slammed in a taxi door by one. In a 2007 episode of ABC’s Ugly Betty, White played the victim of Vanessa Williams’s ruthless Wilhelmina Slater—inspiring the resounding question, Who would ever want to hurt Betty White?
Match Game: The Hostess With the Mostest
From the time Life With Elizabeth ended until her classic sitcom roles in the 1970s and ’80s, White mostly played herself—appearing as a TV personality and comedian on game shows and other programs. In this classic Match Game episode, White assumes the role of host, amusing all. Oh, the innocent days before Celebrity Apprentice.
Password Plus: I Love Lucy and Betty
As it turns out, the two grandes dames of comedy make a pretty good team! When Betty teamed up with Lucille Ball for this classic 1981 episode of Password Plus, they tore through the Alphabetics round in an awesome display of teamwork.