With her upcoming appearance hosting SNL, Betty White will assume her rightful crown to reign supreme as comedy's queen for the night. Here, we take a look back at the highlights of her six triumphant decades onscreen.
1. Life With Elizabeth, 1953-1955
White's first sitcom role came after various earlier radio shows and variety hour appearances. In 1952 she co-produced and starred in the title role in the incidental comedy of Eisenhower-era domesticity, Life With Elizabeth, for which she won her first Emmy.
2. The Betty White Show, 1954
Though only on-air for a single season in 1954, The Betty White Show boosted its host's recognizability, cementing her household name status. The friendly talk show format easily conveyed Ms. White's natural charisma, wit, and humor—and she sang!
3. Date with the Angels, 1957-1958
White returned to the sound stage as Vicki Angel in the newlyweds and neighbors comedy, Date with the Angels. More polite than The Honeymooners, more subdued than I Love Lucy, the lesser-known sitcom is just as entertaining as its contemporaries, and Betty stole the show, literally: it was canceled after a year and replaced with its obvious star's own eponymous variety show.
4. Advise and Consent, 1962
A brief cameo in the Otto Preminger sex scandal/senate procedural drama, Advise and Consent marks White's first foray in film. As Senator Bessie Adams of Kansas, she addresses Congress to admonish Senator Fred Van Ackerman of Wyoming (George Grizzard) with her characteristic subtly sassy sweetness.
5. Password, 1961-1975
From the 1950s through the 1980s, White guested on numerous game shows while simultaneously working in sitcoms. The original Password is probably dearest in the star's memory—she married host Allen Ludden in 1963. This clip, filmed shortly after their nuptials, evidences the couple's adorable affection on-air.
6. The Mary Tyler Moore Show, 1973-1977
Sue Ann Nivens, the saccharine and snide "Happy Homemaker" of Mary Tyler Moore's show-within-a-show, is White's most remembered role of her early career. Winning two Emmys during her time on the cast, White was the original model for the hugely popular character when Mary Tyler Moore herself first envisioned the addition.
7. Match Game, 1963-1990
A staple of the game show circuit, Betty White was at the core of Match Game in its many manifestations. Foretelling her career within the genre (she would go on to host Just Men! in 1983), she takes the mic and the helm of Match Game 73 in 1982.
8. Mama's Family, 1983-1985
Originating as a sketch on the Carol Burnett Show, Mama's Family featured Betty White in a recurring role as the uppity daughter to Vicki Lawrence's titular Mama. White first worked with her future Golden Girls costar Rue McClanahan on the show.
9. The Golden Girls, 1985-1992
White's now most recognizable role is that of the stupid, overwhelmingly sympathetic storyteller Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls. White's genius shone alongside her castmates'; the honed comedic craft of four senior actresses did what is almost impossible, making a sitcom concerning the post-menopausal one of the most popular of its time and a modern classic within a culture obsessed with youth.
10. The Bold and the Beautiful, 2006-2009
Mysteriously materializing after an inexplicable absence (soap operas keep it real), Ann Douglas was the long lost mother of The Bold and the Beautiful's head bitch in charge, Stephanie Forrester. Secretive despite her sweetness, Ann inexplicably appeared and disappeared again and again, her presence periodically paining her family with the memory of her absence—even though she never existed if she wasn't in that week's script.
11. Boston Legal, 2005-2008
Catherine Piper is a brash old broad who has appeared in many incarnations throughout White's tenure on the Boston Legal. Secretary, sandwich lady, criminal, and witness, Catherine has been featured the most frequently of any recurring character on the show. Entering into memedom with image of her gun-wielding stick-up, Betty's Catherine was a bitch from the start on the series, straight-talking James Spader's Alan Shore upon her debut.
12. Snickers Superbowl Commercial, 2010
It is fitting that elements culminating in the wave of White's recent recognition should echo some of her earliest work as a model and commercial actress. In the 2010 Superbowl ad for Snickers, White played tough on the football field in a bit that mentions her as a sort of omni-grandmother figure, casually cementing her as a truly archetypal actress: the hip and hysterical whip-tongued lady we all grew up with.