Betty White talks Robert Pattinson and her successful career at TimesTalk event

Betty-White

Image Credit: Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Betty White’s new memoir, If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won’t), hit shelves Tuesday. And considering the 89-year-old has shown no signs of slowing down, it wasn’t a surprise that she stopped by The Times Center last night for the TimesTalk event “A Conversation with Betty White.” The seven-time Emmy award-winning actress, interviewed by Frank Bruni, talked about her career, her new book, and shared several stories that kept the audience laughing. White summed up her seven-decade career simply, “I’m the luckiest old broad on two feet.” Here are a few highlights from last night’s chat:

On Robert Pattinson:
The back cover of her book features this praise from Twilight star Robert Pattinson: “Betty White is one of the sexiest women in America.” White told Bruni she doesn’t know much about that “vampire” — she’s never even met him. But she said she appreciates his voice of confidence, and then added: “But maybe he should see a therapist.”

On her good health:
“I have good genes, but I’m a health nut. My favorite food it hot dogs with french fries. And I get a lot of exercise. I have a two-story house with a very bad memory.”

On her now-famous Saturday Night Live appearance:
White talked about her reluctance to host SNL — she turned Lorne Michaels down three times before agreeing to appear. The self-proclaimed California girl she she was scared of the “New York people” and had a fear of cue cards. They showed part of this SNL clip of White discussing her, umm, muffin. The audience was already laughing, but when the lights came back up, White quickly quipped: “I’m so glad I don’t understand things!”

On The Golden Girls:
She made one thing clear: “Rose is not dumb. She’s just terminally naive.” White said she was closest to Rue McClanahan. The pair would play word games on set in between takes. And although she was crazy about Bea Arthur, “Bea was not that fond” of her. White said her positive attitude often made Arthur mad. As for why a Golden Girls reunion never happened: “Bea is the reason. There were talks, but Bea wouldn’t do it. She said, ‘quit while you’re ahead.’”

On The Mary Tyler Moore Show:
She was supposed to appear on only one episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. [Creator] Allan Burns called and said he had a role for a “happy homemaker who’s this sickening Betty White type.” And Sue Ann Nivens was born.

On her love of animals:
White, who is known for her charity work with animals, said her love for animals began in the womb. She said that of all the creatures she’s handled (lions, rhinoceroses, etc.), the only time she’s ever been hurt was by a swan: “It hit my leg with its wing. I was bruised for weeks!”

On her new show Off Their Rockers:
White talked briefly about her new NBC show, Off Their Rockers, that she is exec producing. “It’s a cousin to Candid Camera where older people getting a jump on young people. The young people don’t know it’s a setup.” White said even though she might work on the open and close of the show, she said she was going to try to stay off-screen: “I need to give you a rest!”

Read more:
Betty White senior citizen prank show coming to NBC

Comments (22 total) Add your comment
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  • harry

    Love you Betty!!!

    • Fluka

      This will probably sound unusual coming from a gay white male, but I absolutely ADORE Betty White and “Golden Girls” is my all-time favorite show!!

      • Duece Bigelow

        That doesn’t sound strange coming from a gay white male, now if you were a straight black male, that would be strange

  • Karate Pants

    Rose Nylund really WAS a grossly misunderstood character. What a delightful woman.
    And maybe Bea Arthur shouldn’t have been such a mean old hag to Betty. She should have been grateful that Betty/Rose was always there to set up her/Dorothy’s lousy jokes.

    • Semi Erect

      Bea Arthur was a GODDESS and I will not tolerate disrespect from any of you. Do you understand me??

  • Steven

    As much as I adore Bea, and Dorothy was my favorite character, i wish she wouldn’t have been so mean to Betty.

  • Ivee

    I was at last evening’s Times Talks with Betty White. She may be the nicest person on the planet, and her outlook on life is inspiring.

  • steph

    Holy crap, off their rockers sounds hilarious. old people doing pranks? love it.

    • Flame

      Good luck with that concept in the USA. It tanked big time in Germany.

  • joeinmemphis

    Oh Bea Arthur you old bag!

  • Carrie

    I doubt Bea Arthur really disliked her. How could she? She may not have understood her upbeat attitude, but I’d bet she considered her a friend.

    • Someday in heaven

      She would see the biggest gift would be from Bea, and the card attached would say “Thank you for being a friend”.

  • anti

    Rob has good taste.

  • ELISABETH

    I love reading about Golden Girls behind the scenes, but, this many years later, it’s hard to find stuff, anyone know of any links to this type of stuff…

    I wish there was a True Hollywood Story Golden Girls

  • Solly

    I don’t think it’s fair that we all judge a dead person who isn’t around to defend herself. I would respect Betty, who I adore, more if she’d actually talked about this when Bea was alive. Possibly their relationship was more like Neelix (Betty) and Tuvok (Bea) from Star Trek: Voyager and in any case there are plenty of people I work with that I wouldn’t consider friends but that doesn’t mean we can’t work together and be perfectly civil with each other. You can’t love everyone and why should you – acting is still just a job at the end of the day.

  • Marie McHargue

    What ever!? They were both great on Golden Girls, just different.They

    Well, whatever!? The show wouldn’t have been as good as it
    was without either of them on it -
    so lets be thankful we did getto enjoy it.

  • Lari

    Betty White is this generation’s George Burns. A terrific octogenarian who has the most marvelous career and an amazing sense of humor and is reigniting her career for a whole new group of people. I just love Betty White.

  • Sven Golly

    You all must be KIDDING! Betty White is an old, foul mouthed, beotch! Did you see the William Shatner roast? Ole’ Betty showed what she really was. A trash talking, slut who is not anything like the persona she would have us all believe. PUHLEEEZEEEZZZEEEEEE!!!
    Give it a rest Betty. But people, don’t blame yourselves. This is the hollywood way. The actors you wish to worship are NEVER who you want them to be. So realize it and go on. To idolize someone just because they play a character you loved is simply silly. They are only saying words they are given by people better and more worthy then they are. Like Shatner in Star Trek. Everyone loves Capt Kirk and therefore everyone loves Shatner. Though they don’t admit it. When he talks no matter how silly, people listen. People just can’t seperate church and state as it were. These are simply actors folks. The least stable humans on the planet. Just like sports people. Not mature or stable. You are worshipping an image. Just like a golden calf or whatever. Wake up folks or you may find out too late how wrong you really are. That would be such a dreadfull shame for us all.

  • jean

    I love Betty White to.She is so cute and innocent all the time.I

  • jean

    I LOVE BETTY WHITE to.She is so cute and innocent.it makes you wont to give her a big hug.Hope her new show hits the charts.

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