Betty White is a legendary actress who is known for such iconic roles as Sue Ann Nivens on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and Rose Nylund on “The Golden Girls.” She is the queen of sitcoms and has been a household name since she began working in the film and television industry in the 1940s. With a career spanning over 80 years, White holds the record for being the woman with the longest running career in show business.
White has long been referred to as “The First Lady of Television,” and, in fact, that moniker was chosen as the title for a documentary about her life. The documentary came out in 2018 and can be found on Netflix. The film features behind-the-scenes clips of her work in television as well as commentary by her friends and co-stars.
In one memorable scene of the documentary White can be seen snuggling up close to a real and very large grizzly bear at the Los Angeles Zoo. The bear didn’t seem to mind the actress’s presence and even allowed her to give him a kiss on the forehead. She also feeds the bear some snacks, earning all of his attention and affection. The bear acts very tame for being such a huge and fierce looking animal.
White’s passion for animals is abundantly clear when you watch her interact with the grizzly bear in the documentary. She seems completely unafraid and relaxed as they sit together for an extended period of time. She can be heard saying hello to the bear and making comforting noises while she pets him. The bear appears to be having a good reaction to White as well, as he eats food from her hand and lets her rub against his side.
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White was born in January 1922, making her 99 years old. She was born in Oak Park, Illinois, and moved to the Los Angeles area before her second birthday. As a child, her family would often vacation in the Sierra Nevada where White fell in love with nature, specifically animals. She wished to become a forest ranger, but at the time the opportunity was only available to men.
When asked about her 99th birthday, White said it was just like any other year because she has good health; she credits her positive attitude for helping her longevity. “A sense of humor,” she answered when asked what helped her reach age 99. “Don’t take yourself too seriously. You can lie to others — not that I would — but you cannot lie to yourself,” she told People.
White has had two signature roles in her career, that of Sue Ann Nivens on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and Rose Nylund on “The Golden Girls.” The first came in 1973 when White, who was a long time friend of Mary Tyler Moore, joined her show in its fourth season. “The Golden Girls” was on air from 1985 to 1992 and is considered the biggest hit of White’s career.
Outside of sitcoms, White is also known for hosting and being a contestant on a number of game shows. It was on the show “Password” in 1961 that she met her late husband, Allen Ludden. The couple married in 1963 and were together until Ludden’s death from cancer in 1981.
White has dedicated her personal life to the care and welfare of animals. She works with many different animal organizations including, the Morris Animal Foundation, the Los Angeles Zoo Commission, Actors and Others for Animals and the African Wildlife Foundation. It is believed that her interest in becoming an advocate for animals started when she worked on the TV series “The Pet Set” in the 1970s.
White has long said that she works in the film and television industry in order to support the work she does with animals. “That’s my life. The reason I work, the reason I do anything is for my love for animals,” she said in a scene from “Betty White: First Lady of Television.”
White has written two books about her passion for animals titled “Betty White’s Pet-Love: How Pets Take Care of Us” and “Betty & Friends: My Life at the Zoo.” Her friend and the co-author of two of her memoirs, Tom Sullivan, has been quoted saying, “I believe Betty White can charm the savage beast. Though Betty always treats people with dignity, respect and charm, she has a far closer relationship to animals than she does people.”
In 2008 alone, White donated nearly $100,000 to the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, making her one of their top donors. White is also the president emerita of the Morris Animals Foundation, which is an organization that works to advance veterinary medicine and funds veterinary research. The foundation was started in 1948 and only funds scientific studies at accredited institutions.
What crossed your mind when White was cuddling up to the grizzly bear? Were you worried for her at all? Let us know your thoughts, and be sure to send this to your friends and family members.