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Biography #2 (for Bringing Down the House)

Six-time Emmy Award-winning actress Betty White was born in Oak Park, Illinois, moved to Los Angeles with her parents when she was two years old and graduated from Beverly Hills High School.

White started out in radio, which led into television at its very beginning on the West Coast. Her first big break was joining A1 Jarvis on a local TV show which broadcast five and a half hours a day, six days a week-live. After two years, White inherited the show.

In partnership with producer Don Fedderson and writer George Tibbles, she formed her own production company. They produced White's first comedy series Life With Elizabeth (for which she received an Emmy in 1952), a daily NBC network talk/variety show, and a network situation comedy A Date with the Angels. She appeared frequently on major variety and game shows, and was a recurring regular with Jack Paar, Merv Griffin, and Johnny Carson. She also subbed as host on all three shows. Additionally, she was a regular with Vicki Lawrence on Mama's Family, as sister Ellen, a role she created with the rest of the company on The Carol Burnett Show.

White's first appearance on The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the show's fourth season led to her becoming a permanent cast member. Her portrayal of Sue Ann Nivens the Happy Homemaker, brought two Emmys for supporting actress in 1974-75 and 1975-76.

White narrated the New Year's Day Tournament of Roses Parade on network television for 20 years, and Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade for 10 years.

In 1970-71 she created, wrote and hosted her syndicated TV animal series The Pet Set.

In 1976 she was awarded the Pacific Pioneers in Broadcasting Golden Ike award, and the Genii Award from American Women in Radio and TV. She received her fourth Emmy for Best Daytime Game Show Host for Just Men. Nominated seven times for BestActress in a Comedy Series for The Golden Girls, she won the Emmy the first season in 1985. She then appeared in the spin-off, The Golden Palace for one season. In 1996 she won her sixth Emmy for Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series on The John Larroquette Show. In 1997 she was Emmy-nominated for Best Guest Actress for Suddenly Susan. The American Comedy Awards gave her the funniest Female Award in 1987, and the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990. In 1995 she was inducted into the Television Academy's Hall of Fame. Also, in 2000 she received the American Comedy Award for the Funniest Female Guest Appearance in a Television Series for Ally McBeal.

White has appeared in several movies for television, including Chance of a Lifetime with Leslie Nielsen, and The Retrievers for Animal Planet. Her big-screen credits most recently include Hard Rain with Morgan Freeman and Christian Slater, Dennis the Menace Strikes Again playing Mrs. Wilson opposite Don Rickles, Lake Placid for David E. Kelley and The Story of Us for Rob Reiner.

She is the author of four books: Betty White's Pet Love; Betty White In Person, The Leading Lady; Dinah's Story, co-authored with Tom Sullivan, and Here We Go Again: My Life in Television.

White is President Emeritus of Morris Animal Foundation, and has been a trustee since 1971. She received the American Veterinary Medical Association's Humane Award in 1982. She has served on the Board of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association since 1974, and now serves as vice president of the Los Angeles Zoo Commission.

White was married for eighteen years to television host Allen Ludden until his death in 1981.

Bio courtesy Touchstone for "Bringing Down the House" (12-May-2003)


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