Happy 91st Birthday Betty White! 15 Things You Didn't Know About America's 'Golden Girl'

betty white birthday

Our favourite “Golden Girl” turns 91 today!

Is there anything Betty White hasn’t done?She’s been television royalty from the early days of radio, to the quiz show era, and “Golden Girls.”

In the past few years, she’s had cameos on everything from “Community” to “30 Rock” and “The Middle,” has brought in record ratings on “Saturday Night Live” and made a television comeback on TV Land’s “Hot in Cleveland.”

Currently, White has a hit comedy “Off Their Rockers” on NBC where she’s danced Gangnam Style with PSY.

However, you probably don’t know everything about the Queen of Comedy. 

We went through LIFE’s illustrated biography of Betty White to find out what you don’t know about the woman behind the laughs.

White nearly left the biz before making it big, wasn’t proud of all her television roles, and nearly wasn’t on the “Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

Betty's first work in Hollywood was in a Parkay margarine commercial.

White hung around in producer Fran Van Hartesveldt office until he decided to offer her a job in the commercial.

This led to her appearance on radio show 'The Great Gildersleeve,' also headed by Hartesveldt.

(Betty White: The Illustrated Biography)

White has never had acting lessons.

White has said they were never her thing.

'I just want to bring as much natural as I can,' said White. 'I'm not saying that people who take acting lessons are false. They're much better than I am, but it doesn't work for me.'

(Betty White: The Illustrated Biography)

Before joining 'Hollywood on Television,' White was asked if she'd be interested in a television special with then-radio disc jockey, Dick Haynes. The free gig led to a call from Jarvis -- another disc jockey -- to have Betty as his sidekick on 'Hollywood on Television.'

(Betty White: The Illustrated Biography)

White once performed 58 live advertisements in a day.

She and 'Hollywood on Television' co-host Al Jarvis had to do numerous live ads for their sponsors.

(Betty White: The Illustrated Biography)

White wouldn't win her first until 1975 for her appearance on the 'Mary Tyler Moore Show.'

The show was part of an original 'Hollywood on Television.' You can watch a clip here.

(Betty White: The Illustrated Biography)

Starting in 1955, White co-hosted the Tournament of the Roses Parade for 20 years.

When she was replaced in 1975, she began hosting the 'Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade' for the next 10 years with Lorne Greene.

(Betty White: The Illustrated Biography)

White's showbiz career could have been cut short if she stayed with second husband Lane Allan.

When Allan wanted White to stop working and focus on a traditional family life, White chose her career over her husband.

'He didn't want me to be in show business,' said White. 'When you have a calling you have to follow it, so I made the choice, blew the marriage and I've never regretted it.'

White married the love of her life, TV host, Allen Ludden in 1963.

The two met while White was a celebrity guest on 'Password' in 1961 and remained married until his death in '81.

(Betty White: The Illustrated Biography)

In her 1997 book, 'Here We Go Again' White described her experience with the ABC show as unhappy. She didn't see her co-star Bill Williams as someone who thought funny.

'I think I can honestly say that that was the only time I have ever wanted to get out of a show,' said White.

(Betty White: The Illustrated Biography)

The show, produced by her husband, ended after one season when Carnation pulled its advertising.

Watch a clip here.

(Betty White: The Illustrated Biography)

The part was originally for a 'Betty White-type.'

It was thought Betty and Mary's friendship may not work out on screen.

(Betty White: The Illustrated Biography)

White prefers animals to humans.

The actress once told Barbara Walters she enjoys animals more.

'Animals don't lie. Animals don't criticise,' said White in 2012 book If You Ask Me. 'If animals have moody days, they handle them better than humans do.'

She loved animals so much, that her first production company, Bandy Productions, was named after her Pekingese, Bandit.

(Betty White: The Illustrated Biography)

Rue McClanahan was offered the role of naïve Rose Nylund while Betty was asked to play Blance.

Pilot director Jay Sandrich suggested the two switch roles since they played similar ones in the past, and it was the best decision ever. White won the Emmy for 'Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series' for her portrayal. After the show's end, she reprised her role as Rose in the short-lived spin-off, 'The Golden Palace.'

May 2010: White made history as SNL's oldest host, and helped earn the show its highest ratings since Nov 1, 2008 when Ben Affleck hosted.

White received a Primetime Emmy Award for her performance which caused us to never look at a muffin the same way again.

However, producers loved her and quickly gave her a full-time role.

(Betty White: The Illustrated Biography)

With two hit television shows, we won't see Betty in theatres this year.

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