Guest Author - Katy Cacolice
During her sixty years (and counting) as an entertainer in television, Betty White has dedicated as much of her life in show business to animal welfare. Recognized as a comedic asset for classic sitcoms like “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “The Golden Girls,” off-screen the pet-enthusiast has worked with the Los Angeles Zoo Commission and Morris Animal Foundation for more than forty years. With boundless energy, the 87-year old has supported and led research causes to cure diseases such as Feline Leukemia and the Potomac Horse Fever.
White's adoration for furry creatures began when the blond was a toddler. Throughout the depression, her parents were deeply devoted animal lovers, casually bringing home stray animals from the street. “I was a lucky little girl. I had parents who’d bring something home and say, 'Hey, Betty, he followed us home. Can we keep it?'” White once recalled. In her mid-thirties, White launched her television career in a starring role on the early 1950s sitcom “Life with Elizabeth,” for which she won her first Emmy Award. Mixing show business with animal activism began with a spirited but simple tv advertisement for Dr. Dog Rosse's Food, which ran exclusively in the Los Angeles area. "My husband used to say that television was my hobby and animals were my real life. I just enjoy them more than anything else," White once commented.
On multiple occasions throughout White's career, her passion for animal health overpowered the choice of polishing her acting resume. The six-time Emmy winner has turned down roles in multiple film and television productions such as Helen Hunt's mother in “As Good as It Gets” (1997). White objected to the image of and how 'kooks' might perceive one particular scene where Jack Nicholson puts his neighbor's tiny barking dog down a garbage chute. With deep devotion for felines, canines, and zoo animals, the queen celebrity game show panelist has penned several books on the study of the bond between humans and their companions. White has also hosted her own weekly radio program, “Betty White on Animals,” and created, wrote, and hosted her own television program, “The Pet Set,” which centered around celebrity elite and their pets. “I'm blessed that I've been able to keep busy with the two things I love most in the world, showbiz and animals. I must admit, I'm the happiest lady!” White has said.
In 2009, Betty White received the Screen Actor’s Guild Lifetime Achievement Award which not only highlighted her career in show business but also for her love of animals.