Betty White: First Lady of Television – A look at Betty White’s life and career features behind-the-scenes clips of her work on television and comments from her friends and co-stars.
Betty’s 80+ years in television is officially the longest career in the history of TV. She was the first woman to produce a national TV show; the first woman to star in a sitcom; and the first woman to receive an Emmy nomination. In fact, she is the first woman to ever appear on television, given her performance on an experimental broadcast in the 1930s. Thanks to exclusive access, the film reveals Betty behind-the-scenes at work, entertaining at home, and interacting with her animal friends—one of whom is a 900 pound grizzly bear. Altogether, it’s a portrait of one of the most beloved stars in the world, truly the “First Lady of Television.”
Betty White: First Lady of Television
Betty Marion White Ludden (January 17, 1922 – December 31, 2021) was an American actress and comedian. A pioneer of early television, with a career spanning eight decades, White was noted for her vast work in the entertainment industry. She was among the first women to exert control in front of and behind the camera and the first woman to produce a sitcom (Life with Elizabeth), which contributed to her being named honorary Mayor of Hollywood in 1955. She is known as the First Lady of Television, which is the subtitle of a 2018 documentary about her life.
After making the transition to television from radio, White became a staple panelist of American game shows, including Password, Match Game, Tattletales, To Tell the Truth, The Hollywood Squares, and The $25,000 Pyramid; dubbed “the first lady of game shows”, White became the first woman to receive the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host for the show Just Men! in 1983. She was also known for her appearances on The Bold and the Beautiful, Boston Legal, The Carol Burnett Show, and Saturday Night Live. Her most notable roles include Sue Ann Nivens on the CBS sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1973–1977), Rose Nylund on the NBC sitcom The Golden Girls (1985–1992), and Elka Ostrovsky on the TV Land sitcom Hot in Cleveland (2010–2015).
White worked longer in television than anyone else in that medium, earning her a Guinness World Record in 2018. White received eight Emmy Awards in various categories, three American Comedy Awards, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, and a Grammy Award. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and was a 1985 Television Hall of Fame inductee.
Achievements and honors
White won five Primetime Emmy Awards, two Daytime Emmy Awards (including the 2015 Daytime Emmy for Lifetime Achievement), and received a Los Angeles Emmy Award in 1952. White was the only woman to have received an Emmy in all performing comedic categories, and also holds the record for longest span between Emmy nominations for performances—her first was in 1951 and her last was in 2014, a span of over 60 years. In 2015, she received the Lifetime Achievement Daytime Emmy.
She has also won three American Comedy Awards (including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990), and two Viewers for Quality Television Awards. She was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1995 and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at Hollywood Boulevard alongside the star of her late husband Allen Ludden. In 2009, White received the TCA Career Achievement Award from the Television Critics Association.
White was the recipient of The Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters Golden Ike Award and the Genii Award from the Alliance for Women in Media in 1976. The American Comedy Awards awarded her the award for Funniest Female in 1987 as well as the list of lifetime achievement awards in 1990.