Golden Girls Wiki

Betty Marion White (January 17, 1922 - December 31, 2021) appeared as the slightly scatterbrained Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls. Also well known to TV sitcom viewers as the devious Sue Ann Nivens on the classic sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Betty has worked steadily in the television industry since 1949. Since 2010, Betty has co-starred with actresses Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, and Wendie Malick on the TV Land network series Hot In Cleveland, for which she has won two consecutive Screen Actors Guild Awards, and also, since its debut in 2012, on the NBC-TV practical joke/reality series Betty White's Off Their Rockers, for which she earned two Emmy Award nominations.


Betty made her very first television appearance in 1939, three months after high school graduation, when she and a classmate sang songs from The Merry Widow on an experimental Los Angeles channel.[1] [2] She soon thereafter found work modeling, and her first professional acting job was at the Bliss Hayden Little Theatre. White's career was disrupted immediately, as World War II broke out, causing her to join the American Women's Voluntary Services. In the 1940s, she worked in radio appearing on shows such as Blondie, The Great Gildersleeve, and This is Your FBI. She then got her own radio show, called The Betty White Show.[3]

In 1949, she began appearing as co-host with Al Jarvis on his daily, live variety show Hollywood on Television on KLAC (not KCOP-TV today) in Los Angeles.[4] Betty then began hosting the show by herself in 1952 after Jarvis' departure, spanning five and a half hours of live ad-lib television six days per week over a contiguous four-year span altogether. In all of her various variety series over the years, White would sing at least a couple of songs during each broadcast. In 1950, Betty was nominated for her first Emmy Award as "Best Actress" on television, competing with such legendary stars as Judith Anderson, Helen Hayes, and Imogene Coca (the award went to Gertrude Berg). This was the very first award and category in the new Emmy history designated for women on and starred in her own series, Life with Elizabeth in 1952.

Betty's greatest fame during the 1960s and early 1970s with the general public was likely from her long stint as hostess and commentator on the annual Tournament of Roses Parade broadcast on NBC, often co-hosting with Lorne Greene. White began a nineteen-year run as host on the program in 1956; NBC replaced her in 1975, feeling she was too identified with rival network CBS due to her new-found success on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. White admitted to People magazine it was difficult "watching someone else do my parade",[5] although she soon would start a ten-year run as hostess of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade for CBS.

White would receive her second and third Emmy's from her part on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. White considers her part as Sue-Ann in the show one of the highlights of her professional career, but she describes her television image as "icky sweet." She felt this way because she was willing to satirize her own small screen persona, her character was the definition of feminine passivity.

The widow of TV game-show host Allen Ludden, she has been inducted into the Television Hall of Fame and is known for her tireless efforts on behalf of animals. Most recently Betty was given the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.


Betty White with Rue McClanahan and Vicki Lawrence in Mama's Family


  • She moved to Los Angeles with her family when she was 2 years old
  • She an avid Animal Rights activist and is a sponsor for Farm Animal Reform Movement and Friends of Animals.
  • She attended the same high school as Angelina Jolie, Michael Klesic, Nicolas Cage, Lenny Kravitz, David Schwimmer, Jonathan Silverman, Gina Gershon, Rhonda Fleming, Jackie Cooper, Rob Reiner, Antonio Sabato Jr., Pauly Shore, Michael Tolkin, Corbin Bernsen,Elizabeth Daily, Albert Brooks, and Crispin Glover.
  • She is strongly critical of reality television.
  • She admits to having surgery before The Golden Girls (1985), even though the program was about growing old and not having a problem with it.
  • She was portraying the conniving, gold-digging Ellen Harper, the niece of Rue McClanahan, who played the prudish Aunt Fran, On "Mama's Family", (1983) at the same time as they were working together on The Golden Girls (1985) in almost opposite roles.
  • She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1988. The star is next to her late husband, Allen Ludden's star.
  • Parents' names were Horace and Tess White.
  • She is of German and Greek ancestry.

Awards and nominations for The Golden Girls[]

Emmy Award Nominations:

  • Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (1986) (Won)
  • Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (1987)
  • Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (1988)
  • Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (1989)
  • Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (1990)
  • Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (1991)
  • Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (1992)

Golden Globe Nominations:

  • Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series – Comedy/Musical (1986)
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series – Comedy/Musical (1987)
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series – Comedy/Musical (1988)
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series – Comedy/Musical (1989)


  1. France, Lisa Respers (February 9, 2010). "Cool Betty White is red-hot". CNN. Retrieved October 13, 2013. "According to an oral history interview White conducted in 1994 for the Archive of American Television, she broke into the business three months after graduating from Beverly Hills High School in 1938 at an early age, as part of an experimental television show."
  2. O'neil, Tom (June 17, 2010). "Betty White reflects on a golden career". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 13, 2013.
  3. "Betty White honored with 2009 Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award". Screen Actors Guild Awards (Los Angeles). January 23, 2010. Retrieved October 13, 2013.
  4. Kilday, Gregg (September 15, 2009). "Betty White to receive SAG lifetime award". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 5, 2009.
  5. Windeler, Robert (December 20, 1976). "MTM Is Ending and Stumpers Is Dumped, but Betty White & Allen Ludden Still Have Each Other". People 6 (25).,,20067239,00.html. Retrieved January 18, 2014.

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