The Sage Connection

99 years wasn't enough. I wanted at least 100.


I really liked Betty White. I don’t usually write about celebrities. The Paris Hiltons and Kardashians of this world bore me stiff. Million-dollar weddings in castles and cathedrals are too often followed by husbands and wives changing partners like you and I change outfits.

Nobody, many claim, understands how hard it is to be famous after they have worked so hard to become famous. Drugs and alcohol are needed to soothe their troubled feelings when someone younger or prettier get to pretend to be someone else on the silver screen for an hour or so.

Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy movies and television shows like everyone else. But I don’t hang on actors' every endorsement or rejoice for every award handed out by themselves to each other.

There are a few class acts left. Meryl Streep and Robert Redford come to mind. Will we ever forget Sean Connery’s “Bond. James Bond?” Paul Newman’s blue eyes?  Or Richard Burton's voice? He could have recited the dictionary and I would have listened. Gone but not forgotten.

But I really liked Betty White.

I loved her characters - her snarky witticism on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and naive syrupy sweetness on The Golden Girls. The characters’ words were put in her mouth by others. But she made them work. And she had a mind and mouth of her own, which she put to good use.

She could turn the air blue with words that would make a sailor blush, smiling sweetly the whole time. Her smile and dimples belied a sharpness of mind that came to the forefront on the game show Password, where she met her husband, host Allen Ludden.

She had no problem standing up for what she believed in, whether it was racial injustice or animal abuse. I loved the way she would raise her eyebrows when she was about to fling a zinger at someone.

And I loved her ability to laugh at herself. Her best stories always seemed to be about her own follies and rarely about anyone else’s.

She was a class act. She knew who and what she was. And she was comfortable with it all.

Today, when so many seem determined, if not eager, to be offended, she sailed through the muck with the ease of someone coated in Teflon. She seemed to be able to determine whose problem it was, and if not hers, passed right by.

I really liked Betty White. Ninety-nine years were not enough. I wanted at least 100.

Kathleen Anderson writes this column each week from her home in Olympia.  Contact her at or post your comment below. 


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