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Betty White’s 80-year Hollywood career honored with a PBS special

Hollywood icon, Betty White, honored by friends and other Hollywood legends in a new PBS special.

(Reuters)

BEVERLY HILLS, California. (Novum / AP) — Betty White sees no point in slowing down at age 96, as long as her phone keeps ringing with offers to work.

The actress known for her roles in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “The Golden Girls” is marking its 80th year in show business with a PBS special that looks at her life and career.

Moore, Georgia Engel, Gavin MacLeod are among those sharing insights on the “Betty White: the First Lady of Television,” which debuts Aug. 21.

The special shows White at work, at home and in dealing with friends. She is the lonely life star of “The Golden Girls.”

White did not join Angel and MacLeod at a TV critics meeting on Tuesday.

“Betty wanted to be here in the worst way,” said Steve Boettcher, the special co-director and producer. “She sends her best and she’s doing great.”

Tap dancer Arthur Duncan credits White with the launch of his career with him on her own daily talk show in the middle of the 1950s. The show received letters complaining about Duncan’s presence as a black performer.

White also served as producer and her reaction to the protests was to Duncan every chance they could. He later went to “The Lawrence Welk Show”, and was the first black regular on a TV variety show.

“She was probably one of the most beautiful, greatest and best people I’ve had the chance to meet in my life,” said Duncan, now 84. “When she walked into a room, it lit up.”

The bare MacLeod, who is 87, highlighted the interaction between his character, Murray and White’s portrayal of man-hungry Sue Ann Nivens on Moore’s show.

“If I had hair, I don’t think it would have worked,” he said, laughing about the comic possibilities of his physical appearance commanded White.

“Thursday we had a new script and shoot on the Friday evening. Had that thing down and go up and do it. She was the quickest study I worked with in my career,” MacLeod said.

MacLeod said the old friendship between Moore and her then-husband Grant Tinker and White, and her husband, Allen Ludden led to White for her role in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

White and Ludden would attend Friday night tapings, and eventually the writers made of White unforgettable character.

“To this day, people imitate her,” MacLeod said, pointing to a scene in which Sue Ann turns off the oven door with her knee. “My wife still close the door that way.”

Moore’s appearance in the special was the last interview she did before her death last year, Boettcher said.

Angel’s fondest memories of White center on their off-screen friendship. They bonded over a mutual love of the animals. The women visited, a bear and White taught Angel to give the animal a marshmallow with her teeth.

“Animals just to her,” said the Angel, which still occur at 70.

She said: White’s most recent pet, a dog, died not long ago. White is taken after the dog flunked seeing-eye aide training.

Despite the ups-and-downs of show biz, White friends say that they maintained a positive attitude.

“It has to do with her character,” Angel said. “Betty has such as integrity, honesty, generosity of spirit, wisdom and self-forgetfulness when they are in a room of people. It really is a beautiful thing.”

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