Sitcom savant: Betty White was born to be a sitcom star. She honed her skills as a bubbly housewife on the early 1950s syndicated series “Life With Elizabeth,” on which she served as a producer, before making her biggest mark as “Mary Tyler Moore’s” lusty Sue Ann Nivens and the goofy naif Rose Nylund of “The Golden Girls.” As a guest star on laffers ranging from “Petticoat Junction” to “30 Rock,” she’s always been money in the bank.
Latenight yakker: White was a favorite guest of Jack Paar’s during his “Tonight Show” days, but it was Johnny Carson who made her a staple of his skits, taking advantage of her ability to put even the goofiest gags over. Her career keeps her busy on the latenight and daytime yak circuit, but she’s also enjoying semi-regular residency on “The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson,” where the only thing that interferes with her comic timing is the standing ovation she gets on each intro.
Game maven: “Password,” “What’s My Line,” “To Tell the Truth,” “Match Game,” “Liar’s Club,” “$100,000 Pyramid,” “Hollywood Squares,” etc. — it’s easier to list the gameshows White hasn’t done. Quiz-zers and other gameshows were a natural attraction for her because she grew up in a household where even the most mundane daily doings were turned into competitive amusements by her mother and father. Her zeal for the format only deepened after she met the love of her life, “Password” host Allen Ludden, on a Goodson-Todman set.
Dramatic duse: White has dabbled in dramatic roles throughout her career. Among her many guest shots, she had a recurring stint as a sharp-tongued assistant on David E. Kelley’s legal ensemblers “The Practice” and “Boston Legal,” and she played a tormented mother trying to reunite with her children on the CBS daytime sudser “The Bold and the Beautiful.”
Scene stealer: White has seen a growing number of feature supporting roles coming her way. She earned high marks from crix this past summer opposite Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds in romantic comedy “The Proposal,” and she’ll be onscreen this year with Sigourney Weaver, Jamie Lee Curtis and Kristen Bell in the Walt Disney Pictures laffer “You Again.” Other notable pic credits include “Bringing Down the House” and “The Story of Us.”