5 times Betty White led the world: From HIV awareness to defying racists
Betty White, who died at the age of 99 on New Year’s Eve, was one of the most prolific actresses the world ever saw. The veteran star was noted for her vast work in the entertainment industry that brought her fame at home and abroad. The ‘Hot in Cleveland’ star was none like the actresses of her time as she never shied away from calling spade a spade.
Betty White, who fell in love thrice, did not hesitate to split with her second husband Lane Allen after he wanted her to stop working- something the late actress could never accept. That’s how fierce she was. From beginning her career in radio to becoming a beloved TV star and ultimately hogging the limelight on the silver screen, Betty White did it all. Apart from her work, Betty was also known for the causes she stood for unapologetically. Read on to know how Betty proved to be the pioneer when needed.
Why did Betty White never have children of her own? Actress dies days ahead of 100th birthday
When Betty White defied racist demands
Betty White defied racist demands when she interviewed a young Black tap dancer in 1954 on her hit show ‘The Betty White Show’. She spoke to a 21-year-old dancer named Arthur Duncan that quickly became a hot gossip in the town. Betty, who was in her early 30s at the time, also did not hesitate to call another Black kid for an interview. Duncan, at the time, was looking for his big break which he ultimately got, thanks to Betty White’s interview. Duncan later toured with Bob Hope and appeared on ‘The Lawrence Welk Show’ for nearly two decades.
Betty White broke the stigma around HIV/AIDS
Betty White’s popular show ‘The Golden Girls’ aired their historic episode called ’72 Hours’ that tackled the stigma around the AIDS epidemic. The episode was originally aired in 1990. The particular episode sheds light on Betty White’s character Rose Nylund where she learns that she recently received may have been exposed to blood containing HIV antibodies. The episode showed how AIDS could affect everyone and not just the LGBT community.
Speaking about the same in an interview with Vulture a few years ago, Betty said, “Not only were people understandably afraid of AIDS, but a lot of people wouldn’t even admit it existed”, adding, “So this was a daring episode to do, and the writers went straight for it. It’s interesting that they picked Rose for that situation. Blanche was such a busy lady, but if it had been her story it would have taken on a whole other color. But with Rose being Miss Not-Always-With-It, it came as a real surprise.”
Betty White stood up for animals
Betty White was an animal lover and on various occasions, she had revealed that if she would not have been an actor, she would have become a zookeeper or a park ranger. Betty closely worked with the Los Angeles Zoo Commission, The Morris Animal Foundation, African Wildlife Foundation, and Actors & Others for Animals. Former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had dubbed her “Ambassador to the Animals” in 2006.
Calling the shots
At the time when actresses were looking for meaty roles, Betty White was way ahead as apart from stealing the spotlight in front of the camera, the renowned star received credits as co-creator, producer, and star of the 1952 sitcom ‘Life with Elizabeth’. The show also gave Betty her first Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress. She won another Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress for her role in ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’.
Betty White was one hell of a comedienne and her not-so-sweet humor was something she was known for amongst her peers. According to CNN, Betty White had once sent her co-star Rue McClanahan a "Don't Get Well" card after she was hospitalized for having a stroke. The card read, “Dear Rue, I hope you hurry up and die so I can be the last Golden Girl left. NOT KIDDING." Another famous example of the late actress was when she had a stock reply whenever someone asked if there was anything she had not done in her career. She would always say “Robert Redford." The actress had confessed that she never actually met him and would now be embarrassed if she did.