Whether she's stealing scenes as the bumbling Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls, hustling on game shows like Password and Match Game, or eating men alive as Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Betty White's crack comic skills and cheery personality ensured all eyes were on her. Born on January 17, 1922, in Oak Park, Illinois, White has been entertaining audiences for over seven decades and isn't quite done yet. The actress, who turns 95 this year, recently announced she'd be a guest star on the final season of Bones. Here's a look back at White's long, laugh-filled career.
An Early TV Pioneer
Based on a character she'd created while hosting the daily variety show Hollywood on Television, Life with Elizabeth was Betty White's first taste of success. The popular sitcom, which ran from 1953 to 1955, centered on White's devilish suburban housewife and her perpetually frustrated husband Alvin (George Tibbles). It was even more notable because White also served as executive producer -- a rarity at the time.
Her Enduring Marriage
After two marriages that quickly ended in divorce, White married Password host Allen Ludden on June 14, 1963. The couple met while White was a guest on the hit show, and Ludden proposed multiple times before she finally accepted. White became stepmother to Ludden's three children from a previous marriage, though they never had children of their own, and they remained married until his death in 1981.
Playing the Tart
In 1973 Betty White joined the cast of The Mary Tyler Moore Show as the two-faced perfectionist Sue Ann Nivens. The role wasn't written specifically for her, but in retrospect only she could have pulled off Nivens' mix of sickly-sweet charmer and man-hungry backstabber. The 51-year-old White, who was friends with Moore and her husband Grant Tinker, won back-to-back Emmys for the role.
Her Emmy-Winning Turn on Golden Girls
White landed the role of a lifetime in 1985 when she was cast as the sweet and gullible widow Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls. At the 1986 Golden Globes she won Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy for her sweetly naive portrayal of the St. Olaf, Minnesota, native, and was nominated in the category every year until the show ended in 1992.
Essential Game Show Celeb Player
Since the 1950s, the perpetually perky Betty White has been the go-to game show contestant. Her quick quips and sunny disposition made her a favorite on shows like Password (she eventually appeared on various iterations of the show with five different hosts), I've Got a Secret, Match Game, and Pyramid. In fact, she's often called "The First Lady of Game Shows."
TV Land's Den Mother
In 2010 TV Land jumped into the scripted comedy game with Hot in Cleveland, a half-hour sitcom about three L.A. women (Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, and Wendie Malick) who decide to start over in Cleveland. White earned an Emmy nomination as Outstanding Supporting Actress for her role as Elka Ostrovsky, the sassy and sexually active caretaker who rents her home to the trio.