Betty White just wrapped a short but memorable run as Stephanie’s estranged mother, Ann, on THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL. White spoke to Weekly about her experience there, her impressive and varied showbiz career and what still keeps her going strong in her “Golden” years.
Soap Opera Weekly: You and Susan Flannery (Stephanie) did such a great job at jump-starting this mother/daughter relationship from scratch. Did you two have any time to talk and prepare together or did you just come in and shake hands and go to work?
Betty White: Nope, that’s about the size of it. We read the lines through a couple of times in the dressing room to get a pace going, but on soaps nobody has time to sit down and meditate! (laughs)
Weekly: How did you Susan pull it off?
White: She’s such a dynamite actress. She’s just wonderful and so strong. Everybody there is such a pro, you better go in prepared. You’ve got to go in knowing your stuff when you go in.
Weekly: Especially with Susan.
White: Oh, dear gussy, yes!
Weekly: Daytime viewers know you fondly from your game show era. Would you ever do a game show today?
White: Yes, as a guest, sure. I did Hollywood Squares several times earlier on and they invited me back when Donny Osmond was doing it, but it was a whole other number. Before the show started they would give you some of the questions and say, “Here’s the joke to use for that question.” The fun of Hollywood Squares had always been seeing whatever came out of these people’s heads in the moment, not reciting pre-written material. So I kind of decline doing anymore of those. It wasn’t any fun.
Weekly: So how does it feel to be one of the most sought-after women in Hollywood?
White: I wouldn’t know.
Weekly: You’re being modest! You’re doing BOSTON LEGAL, B&B, voice-overs and a zillion other things. There’s no stopping you.
White: I love to work and I have a schedule that’s incredibly busy, but that’s an observation, not a complaint.
Weekly: Any role you haven’t done you want to do?
White: I used to answer that [question] that the thing I would really love some time to do is a love story. I’m not talking about a sexy thing, I’m talking about a romantic love story. It was always my stock answer, and so finally they wrote me one called Chance of a Lifetime and it was kind of a sweet, romantic story. They asked who I would want as a leading man and I had working with Leslie Nielsen on Password a lot, and I loved his sense of humor and we got along great, so I said, “How about Leslie Nielsen?” And they said, “He’s in London. He’s doing something over there. Why don’t you ask him?” So I wrote him a note and I explained I was doing this movie and I said, “Please say yes.” I got an answer immediately. It didn’t say, “Dear Betty,” or anything like that. It was just, “Yes!” We had a good time.
Weekly: Are you still active in your animal welfare causes?
White: Absolutely. I’ve been with the Los Angeles Zoo for almost 40 years and with the Morris Animal Foundation in Denver for 40 years, so I go back and forth to Denver for board meetings. Morris Animal Foundation is a health organization: We fund humane health studies for specific health problems in dogs, cats, horses and wildlife. And I’ve been with the zoo since 1970. I was the zoo commissioner for three terms and I’ve been on the board of trustees for umpteen years, so it keeps you going. I’m blessed that I’ve been able to keep busy with the two things I love most in the world, showbiz and animals. I must admit, I’m the happiest lady!