The lovely Betty White is the cover girl on this week’s Parade magazine. Inside, Betty talks about her support of same sex marriage, her love of animals and the fact that she gets less than five hours of sleep on an average weeknight. I guess we know now how she does it all. When my grandmother was in her 70s she was sleeping only a few hours a night like that, but I know that I can’t get by on less than 7 hours, 6 if I’m pushing it. I just get too tired and cranky during the day. Here’s some of Parade’s interview with the 88 year-old comedian, with more at the source.
She’s a stair master…
Every weekday, White gets up at 6, feeds her dog, showers, works on a book, heads to the set (whether TV, movie, or commercial) for a day of shooting, comes home, plays with her dog, does a crossword puzzle, writes some more, and goes to bed at 1:30 a.m. (It tires us out just writing this.) How does she stay in shape? “I have a two-story house and a bad memory, so I’m up and down those stairs all the time,” she says. “That’s my exercise.”
…But she likes her junk food, too.
A devoted meat-and-potatoes gal, White eats fries every night (along with a salad or vegetable) and has a hot dog named after her at the legendary Pink’s in Los Angeles (“It’s called ‘Betty “Naked in the City” Hot Dog’…because I don’t put anything on it”). On the set of Hot in Cleveland, her co-star Wendie Malick says, “Betty has a complete thing for Red Vines licorice, the most disgusting candy I ever tasted—with a color that’s not found in nature. But you look at her and think, How does she do it? Maybe that’s her secret.” What does White credit her good health to? “Good genes, I guess. My dad died when he was 83 and my mom died at 85. They were active right up until the very end.”
Her parents passed down their comic timing—and puppy love.
“They had delicious senses of humor,” White recalls. Her father was a traveling salesman who would bring home jokes from the road. He and her mother were also animal people. “They would come back from a walk with a dog, saying, ‘Betty, he followed us home. Can we keep him?’ My parents had a cat named Toby who liked to sit on my crib. My mom always said that if Toby hadn’t approved of the baby, she’d have gone straight back to the hospital.”
She loves her Pontiac.
When White was offered the part of Ryan Reynolds’ grandmother in 2009’s The Proposal, she turned it down because the shoot would have required several weeks away from Pontiac, her beloved golden retriever. She signed on only after the producers tightened the schedule. White, who has three stepchildren, has always loved animals. She’s chairwoman of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association and has volunteered for 40 years with the Morris Animal Foundation, a Denver-based group whose efforts have led to advances in the health and welfare of animals worldwide…
Nobody drives Miss Betty.
Ask White if she still drives and she replies, “Of course!” She owns a silver Cadillac nicknamed Seagull. “I love Cadillacs and name them after birds.” Her previous ride, the pale-yellow Canary, was preceded by the green Parakeet.
She’s a pinup girl.
Move over, Bettie Page. In 2011, walls across America will showcase 12 months of White—strutting with a boom box, lounging with shirtless menservants, and more. And following in the footsteps of Sienna Miller and the Olsen twins, White has recently unveiled a line of T-shirts and sweatshirts. “I wanted them to feature dogs and cats, but the designers insisted on putting my face on the front,” she says in mock astonishment. A portion of the money from the calendar and from the Betty White Collection will benefit the Morris Animal Foundation.
She believes everyone should have the right to say “I do.”
White’s status as a gay icon dates to the mid-80’s popularity of The Golden Girls. “Gays love old ladies,” she says of the phenomenon, which saw fans from West Hollywood to New York City turn on their TVs between 9 and 9:30 on Saturday nights to watch the exploits of Rose & Co. “I don’t care who anybody sleeps with. If a couple has been together all that time—and there are gay relationships that are more solid than some heterosexual ones—I think it’s fine if they want to get married. I don’t know how people can get so anti-something. Mind your own business, take care of your affairs, and don’t worry about other people so much.”
She plays to win…
Once a month or so, White and “family”—pals like Frasier’s Millicent Martin (who played Jane Leeves’ mother) and Password creator Bob Stewart—get together for poker night. “It’s a heavy game,” White says. “You can lose as much as five dollars!” When she was a guest on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon in 2009 and again in May, Fallon challenged her to beer pong. “I explained that you try to throw ping-pong balls into the other person’s beer cup,” he said. “If you get the ball in, your opponent drinks. She said, ‘I’m in!’” and nailed her first toss. “Betty plays the cute factor,” Fallon says, “then goes for the jugular.” He rallied—“I wasn’t going down without a fight”—and eventually won.
Here are some photos of Betty from Parade. I love the kind of half-assed Halloween costumes they put her in. She looks like a superhero in a cardigan. Someday I hope to interview Betty. I really don’t care about meeting any other celebrities (ok, Matt Damon, Joel McHale and Alan Cumming, you got me) but Betty is at the top of my list. You know she’ll crack you the hell up too. Betty is working on two books, her first is due out next Spring and is about “life, love, sex and celebrity.” No wonder she gets barely any sleep with that work schedule.