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Betty White: On her rocker
NUNN ON ONE: TELEVISION
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2013-01-23

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Legendary Betty White has been entertaining the world with a career spanning more than seven decades.

Seven has been a luck number for her, as she has won that many Emmys. Her television appearances are too many to mention but among them are The Mary Tyler Moore Show all the way up to Hot in Cleveland; the latter show has allowed her to win two consecutive Screen Actors Guild Awards. Also, she was the oldest person to guest-host Saturday Night Live, and has been a staple on game shows like Password and Match Game.

White's voiceover work, writing, love for animals and multiple movie roles have garnered her a legion of adoring fans over the years. Her latest endeavor is the practical-joke show Betty White's Off Their Rockers, which she hosts and produces.

There is no stopping our only living Golden Girl as she turns 91 years old this year.

Windy City Times: Hi, Betty. Many of our readers at Windy City Times may not know you are actually from Oak Park, Ill.

Betty White: Yes, I was born across the street from Chicago. The Oak Park Hospital was on one side of the street and Chicago was on the other.

WCT: Is this where the spicy humor comes from?

Betty White: I was an only child. My mother and dad were great and good buddies. My dad was a salesman, and he would bring jokes home. He'd say, "Now, sweetheart, you can take that one to school, but I wouldn't take that one to school." I always see more than one meaning to a word, so the double entendre kind of came naturally. But a double entendre is one thing, and then dirty humor is something else. I don't like dirty jokes, but I do enjoy a double entendre.

WCT: Is the house used in Off Their Rockers your actual home?

Betty White: No, it isn't. I wouldn't use my house. I like a little more privacy than that, but it's fun. It feels like home I am there so much making the show.

WCT: "Gangnam Style" singer PSY dropped in to the house on Rockers. What did you think of him?

Betty White: Oh, he was very nice and so funny. I don't think he wanted to teach us the dance, but I tried to copy him, anyway.

WCT: What was it like to have Ed Asner on the show?

Betty White: Oh, it was such fun. Ed and I stay very close. I don't think we've ever said a nice word to each other, but we adore each other. You know that kind of a friendship. He always yells at me and I yell at him lovingly. He did the show and when you work that closely together, you just somehow you fall into a pattern, and it's as though you saw each other yesterday, even if a little time has gone by.

WCT: What is the secret for longevity in a career?

Betty White: Honesty. You can fool everybody else maybe that you know, but you can't fool that camera. That camera will know when you're faking it every time.

WCT: Why do you keep going with this career?

Betty White: Why quit something that you enjoy so much? Who would ever expect at 91 to still get invited to do shows. I mean, that's unheard of, so if they don't want me to do it, don't ask me, because if they ask me I'll take it.

WCT: How are you celebrating your birthday this year?

Betty White: Well, I think NBC is taking care of that. Last year they did a Betty White's 90th-birthday party on television. We got nominated for an Emmy for it, and this year they're doing Betty White's second annual 90th birthday, so they're doing another one on camera, which should be fun.

WCT: Did you have a favorite moment from the first special?

Betty White: Being surprised with a number of friends—celebrity friends that showed up. Each one was such a lovely surprise. If I start naming them I'll leave somebody out and I don't want to do that, but it was just delightful. Each person that was there or said a few words that just knocked me out.

WCT: How do you think television has changed over the years?

Betty White: Well, I don't think the television has changed nearly as much as the audience has changed. When I started out, television was just starting out, and everything was that miracle on the box in the corner of the room where people were actually moving around, and over the years, as television got to be such a major part of our lives, the audience has heard every joke. They know every storyline. They know where you're going almost before the first line is out. That's a hard audience to surprise and a hard audience to entertain, and it gets more difficult all the time. That's why the real movers and shakers in the television business are the writers. They have a bigger challenge every day.

WCT: Is there anything left that you want to do?

Betty White: Robert Redford. [Both laugh.] No, no, no—it's been 65 years and I think in that time I've been the luckiest person on two feet, so I think I've done about as much as I can do. I'd just like to keep on doing the same thing.

WCT: Speaking of the love life, women are sometimes called cougars in the forties. Are you a cougar?

Betty White: Well, my problem is all my life I never was interested in younger men. He always had to be a little older than I, and my problem now at 90 is I can't find anybody older than I.

WCT: You have so many gay fans from the Golden Girls and several told me they wanted to campaign for more pool boys on Off Their Rockers.

Betty White: Well, I wouldn't mind that, either. Let's start a movement and get that to happen next year. I think there's nothing better than that. My only problem is I have the nicest pool boy at home, but he doesn't look like those other pool boys on the show. He sure can clean a pool, though.

WCT: Hilarious! Thank you for being a friend, Betty, and for your time today.

Betty White: Thank you so much.

Betty White's Off Their Rockers streaks by every Tuesday on NBC.


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