The Archive of American Television is a goldmine. Last week I came across their four-and-a-half-hour interview with Mister Rogers; this week let's take a look at their similarly ultra-in-depth interview with Betty White. This is a five-part sit-down with America's TV sweetheart, conducted at her home in 1997 by her agent, Tony Fantozzi. The interview is gentle, funny, smart, and full of trivia I'd never heard about Betty. I hope you have some spare time today to enjoy this.
From the moment Betty answers a question, her whip-smart wit comes across. She discusses her early life and career in radio.
The shows Hollywood on Television, The Betty White Show, The Rose Parade, and more. "That's the thing about a local show -- you can be as corny as you want, because your enthusiasm sort of carries you over the threshold. ... The most we did in one five-and-a-half-hour period were 58 commercials. And that's a lotta commercials to do, by the time you figure you're ad-libbing from copy." Whoa.
I love the discussion here about Betty White's game show, which involved a pyramid of men, ran for only thirteen weeks, was nominated for Emmys in two seasons, and won an Emmy despite being canceled after just thirteen weeks. Also: Mary Tyler Moore and Betty White went to Bora Bora together.
Golden Girls and Mama's Family! Also, a discussion of her hopes for a space show prior to Star Trek -- Betty is a self-proclaimed "space nut!"
A grab-bag of memories working with zillions of people. My favorite tidbit: how Al Jarvis told Betty not to "put all the merchandise in the window" nor "wear tight sweaters." Good advice.