How Betty White First Stepped Into Show Business

Betty White has been a household name for many years, portraying a variety of characters on TV, seemingly effortlessly. People of different generations remember her as the sharp-tongued Sue Ann Nivens on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," the ditzy Rose Nylund from St. Olaf on "The Golden Girls," and the curmudgeonly Elka Ostrovsky on "Hot in Cleveland." Over that time span, she has made millions of people laugh. Off the set, she's inspired millions more with her positive attitude and her devotion to animals. 

Those three shows alone put her in the top tier of the pantheon of Hollywood stars. That is how good she as she crafted those characters. Her Hollywood career has been much longer than those relatively recent roles. White started in the TV business in the 1950s, going on to rack up guest appearances on shows like "Ellery Queen" and "Pettitcoat Junction," per IMDb

Her first foray was not on a television stage, though. Betty White first began her long career by working behind the scenes, and it was a pioneering role, too. 

Betty White first started as a producer

Before Betty White began her long acting career, she was first an assistant at a local television station in the late 1930s when she was a teenager, per Biography. Then came a television series in 1953 called "Life With Elizabeth," on which she starred with George Tibbles. He was the series' writer, and she was its producer, making her the first woman to produce a national television show in Hollywood, according to PBS. White paved the way for other TV luminaries like Lucille Ball. White also produced another show, the prank-oriented "Betty White's Off Their Rockers," in 2014 (via IMDb). So that was a 61-year hiatus when it came to producing shows. Then again, she kept herself quite busy by being in front of the camera during that span. 

Over the course of her long, full life — she'll turn 100 on January 17, 2022 — she has cemented herself as one of the true legends of Hollywood. People continue to look back fondly at her earlier works, and they will likely do that for many more years, thanks to streaming television. White has been unafraid to push the envelope while also being a consummate professional. She will be remembered for many more decades to come.