Betty White with Emerson College

Actress


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her one-hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Betty White talks about her early aspirations before setting on a career in television and appearing on several early live and local Los Angeles broadcasts. She describes her first show Life with Elizabeth, and becoming one of the first television stars to form her own production company with the help of producer Don Fedderson. She recounts her time playing "Sue Ann Nivens" on the classic Mary Tyler Moore Show, including the famous "Chuckles Bites the Dust" episode. White discusses the importance of humor in her life, and playing "Rose Nylund" for seven season on The Golden Girls. She speaks of her "bag of tricks" as an actress, as well as the business side of the entertainment industry. She discusses her prolific career on several game shows including Match Game and Password. She outlines her then-current role as "Catherine Piper" on Boston Legal, and working on that show with co-star William Shatner. She concludes with some words of wisdom for aspiring television performers, and comments on her career longevity. Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on March 11, 2005 at Emerson College in Boston, MA.

"Being in show business is like being in a very small town and no matter how old you get and the more years that pile up, I walk on a set now and somebody up in the rafters says, 'Hey Betty! Nice to see you again!' I don't know how I lucked in, but boy I'm tasting every minute. Don't look back on something and say, 'Gee wasn't that great, I didn't realize it at the time.' Realize it as you go along. Taste it for what it is now."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Betty White on her "bag of tricks" as an actress 
Betty White on playing "Rose Nylund" on The Golden Girls
Betty White on The Mary Tyler Moore Show  episode "Chuckles Bites the Dust"
Betty White on how Life with Elizabeth came about and forming her production company
Betty White on realizing she was funny
Betty White on her career longevity 
Full Interview

Chapter 1

Introductions by interviewees Bill Dana (Emerson Alum and comedian) and Jenni Matz
On her early aspirations; on realizing she was funny; on being a pioneer on television and appearing on early live local television in Los Angeles
On how Life with Elizabeth came about and forming her production company with George Tibbles; on the premise of Life with Elizabeth 
On her Mary Tyler Moore Show character "Sue Ann Nivens", the importance of writers, and building her characters; on filming The Mary Tyler Moore Show in front of a live studio audience; on the finale of the show and the infamous episode "Chuckles Bites the Dust"
On the importance of humor in her life; on playing "Rose Nylund" on The Golden Girls; on her "bag of tricks" as an actress 
On playing "Catherine Piper" on Boston Legal; on her great success on various game shows; on dealing with agents and managers and her avid animal activism
On her career longevity; on working with William Shatner on Boston Legal and Estelle Getty on The Golden Girls; on words of wisdom for aspiring television performers
Shows

Boston Legal

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Betty White on playing "Catherine Piper" on Boston Legal
Betty White on working with William Shatner as "Denny Crane" on Boston Legal

Golden Girls, The

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Betty White on playing "Rose Nylund" on The Golden Girls
Betty White on working with Estelle Getty as "Sophia Petrillo" on The Golden Girls

Life With Elizabeth

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Betty White on how Life with Elizabeth came about and forming her production company with Don Fedderson
Betty White on the premise of Life with Elizabeth

Mary Tyler Moore Show, The

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Betty White on her Mary Tyler Moore Show character "Sue Ann Nivens", the importance of writers, and building her characters
Betty White on filming The Mary Tyler Moore Show in front of a live studio audience
Betty White on being cast as "Sue Ann Nivens" on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Betty White on The Mary Tyler Moore Show finale 
Betty White on The Mary Tyler Moore Show episode "Chuckles Bites the Dust"

Mary Tyler Moore Show, The: "Chuckles Bites the Dust"

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Betty White on The Mary Tyler Moore Show episode "Chuckles Bites the Dust"
Topics

Advice

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Betty White on words of wisdom for aspiring television performers

Characters & Catchphrases

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Betty White on being cast as "Sue Ann Nivens" on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Betty White on playing "Rose Nylund" on The Golden Girls

Classic TV series episodes

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Betty White on The Mary Tyler Moore Show  episode "Chuckles Bites the Dust"
Betty White on The Mary Tyler Moore Show  finale 

Comedy

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Betty White on The Mary Tyler Moore Show  episode "Chuckles Bites the Dust"
Betty White on The Mary Tyler Moore Show  finale 

Pop Culture

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Betty White on being cast as "Sue Ann Nivens" on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Betty White on The Mary Tyler Moore Show  episode "Chuckles Bites the Dust"
Betty White on The Mary Tyler Moore Show  finale 
Betty White on playing "Rose Nylund" on The Golden Girls

TV's Golden Age (1940s & '50s)

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Betty White on being a pioneer on television and appearing on early live local television in Los Angeles

Television Industry

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Betty White on words of wisdom for aspiring television performers
Professions

Actress

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Betty White on her "bag of tricks" as an actress 
Betty White on dealing with agents and managers
Betty White on her career longevity 
Betty White on words of wisdom for aspiring television performers

Performers

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Betty White on her "bag of tricks" as an actress 
Betty White on dealing with agents and managers
Betty White on her career longevity 
Betty White on words of wisdom for aspiring television performers
Genres

Comedy Series

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Betty White on playing "Elizabeth" on Life with Elizabeth
Betty White on playing "Sue Ann Nivens" on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Betty White on playing "Rose Nylund" on The Golden Girls

Legal Dramas

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Betty White on playing "Catherine Piper" on Boston Legal
People

Don Fedderson

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Betty White on how Life with Elizabeth  came about and forming her production company with Don Fedderson

Estelle Getty

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Betty White on working with Estelle Getty as "Sophia Petrillo" on The Golden Girls

Al Jarvis

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Betty White on appearing on early live local television in Los Angeles with Al Jarvis
Betty White on working with Al Jarvis on live television

William Shatner

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Betty White on working with William Shatner as "Denny Crane" on Boston Legal

Ethel Winant

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Betty White on being cast by Ethel Winant as "Sue Ann Nivens" on The Mary Tyler Moore Show

All Interviews

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