Friday, January 17, 2014

Memorable Meets: Betty White

One of America's favorite funny ladies, Betty White, turns 92 today. Like millions of other people, I am a longtime fan of her work, which made it a thrill to interview her when I wrote my book, The Women Who Made Television Funny: Ten Stars of 1950s Sitcoms.

Any author researching books on Hollywood history can tell you that, when it comes to getting interviews, there can be many a slip between cup and lip. Some celebrities are difficult to track down; others may answer letters weeks or months later; some just plain ignore most requests for interviews. I didn't know what to expect when I wrote a letter to Betty White, who was not retired and resting on her laurels but a busy working actress. I was surprised and impressed when I received an answer within a week, and was able to conduct the interview a few days later. Given the book's focus, we talked primarily about her 1950s shows, Life with Elizabeth and Date with the Angels, and I was able to capture some behind-the-scenes stories that hadn't previously been recorded.

When the book was published, I sent her an inscribed copy, thanking her again for participating. She responded with a handwritten note saying she wasn't sure she merited being featured alongside stars like Lucille Ball, Donna Reed, and Gracie Allen, but that she was pleased to be included. She closed with a postscript: "I love the book!"

Now that's a class act. Happy birthday, Betty!

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