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Everybody loves Betty White

Published January 17, 2011 2:21 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

PASADENA, Calif. - Seems like everybody loves Betty White. Including the women who co-star with her in "Hot In Cleveland."

Jane Leeves actually described working with the TV legend as "inspirational." Executive producer Suzanne Martin said White's presence makes it easier to land big guest stars for the sitcom, which returns for a second season on Wednesday, Jan. 16, at 11 p.m. on TV Land.

"I don't think there's anyone that doesn't love to work with Betty and want to work with Betty, so that makes it a lot easier when we make the phone calls to people," Martin said.

You'd have to look long and hard to find anyone who would say anything negative about White - unless White herself happens to be in the room.

"What is this Betty White business? This is silly," White said. 'Really, it is very silly. You've had such an overdose of me lately. Trust me. I think I'm going to go away for a while."

But that's just part of her charm. With anybody else, the "aw shucks" attitude might come off as less than genuine; with White, it's just natural.

"She really is — as iconic as she is — a regular gal," said co-star Valerie Bertinelli. "She hangs out with us, and she's part of a team."

"I was so happy to be on Betty's team," added co-star Wendie Malick. "This is just another stage in, hopefully, a very long and happy and fulfilling life, just like she has had."

And White is so beloved that even when she is, perhaps, scolding younger generations of actors, she still comes across as everybody's mother/grandmother.

"I'm only going to be 89 in a couple weeks," White said. "I tell you what's wonderful about working with these ladies. They're all pros. They've all come off of big, successful shows, and they're so professional about their career, unlike some of the young [actors].

"My advice to young stars is - don't believe your own publicity, and don't abuse your privileges. These girls are on the set with their lines learned with their hair done."

"Well, some of us are," Bertinelli interjected.

"I'm serious for a second," White said. "It's a very important quality in a show. I think that's why we all love each other. Nobody is holding anybody back."

Leeves, who was on "Frasier" for 11 years, said she's learned about work ethic from White.

"You work ethic is so strong," she said. "You are so prepared."

"Well, I don't think of it as work," said White. "We do have fun."

Which is why, pushing the age of 90, she still doesn't want to say the R word - retirement.

"It's hard for me to say no to a job because you spend your career thinking if you say no, they'll never ask you again. And if you don't take the job, that may be the end of it," she said. "My mother taught me to say no when I was a girl, but that wasn't about show business.

"I'm trying to cut down. I really am. But when you love what you do so much, it's a privilege."

TECHNOPHOBE: Betty White is cool. She's now. She's one of the biggest stars working today.

But she's still a little old-fashioned in that she doesn't even own a computer.

"I don't have a computer because I get a lot of mail, but I can stack those in stacks and throw this stack out without answering. And then I get to this stack," White said. "But if I punched the button and stored something in a computer, I wouldn't sleep at night wondering what was stored in there. I'm a technological spaz."