When a woman reaches a certain age, she is expected to quietly retire and enjoy whatever years she has left.
Betty White, whose 99th birthday is today, has more than proven that a woman of certain years is just as capable and vibrant as she was when she was younger.
White is an icon of the television age. She has been on our screens for more than seventy years, entertaining audiences of multiple generations.
My favorite roles of hers are Sue Ann Nivens from The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls. I love the contrast between the characters. Sue Ann may appear to be sugary sweet, but she has a bite that is completely unexpected. Rose Nyland is one of the nicest people you would ever meet. That being said, she isn’t the brightest bulb in the box.
One of my favorite blessing of my faith is the following:
“May you live until 120.”
Though White is not quite there yet, the fact that she is 99 and still ticking is an inspiration to us. Happy Birthday.
*I apologize about the delay in posting. For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.
*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series TheGolden Girls. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show.
There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.
In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from TheGolden Girls. to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.
The dumb blonde has been a reliable character trope for generations. But it takes a smart writer and a smarter actress to take that character trope into new directions. On TheGolden Girls, Rose Nylund (Betty White) appears to be the stereotypical dumb blonde. But she is much more than that.
At first glance, Rose appears to be far from the brightest bulb in the box. She says and does things that only a naif would say and do. The stories of her youth often reference her hometown, St. Olaf and the Scandinavian-American family that she was raised in. While she may appear to be a dumb blonde, Rose is much more than the archetype.
A widow whose husband died while they were making love, it takes Rose a few years to get back into the dating world. She is employed in a series of jobs after losing her late husband’s pension. Though she did have a long term relationship with Miles Webber (Harold Gould), the relationship ended after they broke up and Miles married another woman.
To sum it up: It would be easy to characterize Rose as a dumb blonde. But she is so much deeper than the innocent that she appears to be. Rose is empathetic, kind, loving, sensitive and sometimes, not all there. But we love her still, regardless of her lack of intellectual abilities.
Betty White may not be 120, but she comes pretty close today, on her 95th birthday. Her career has lasted nearly a century. Starting her career in radio in the 1940’s, she made the transition to television in the 1950’s. Generations of television fans have grown up with her, laughed with her and adored her.
For my part, I remember watching The Golden Girls as a kid. Rose Nylund was not the sharpest tack in the box, but there was something endearing about. Maybe it was those crazy St. Olaf stories.
Before Golden Girls, there was Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Sue Ann was sweet as apple pie, when she needed or wanted to be. But behind the sweetness was the barbs.
Someone once said that age is nothing but number. Betty White proved that when she hosted Saturday Night Live in 2010, holding her own against performers decades younger than she.
She continues to inspire fans and fellow performers with her humor, her commitments to animals rights causes and proof that old age, especially in women is not a reason to sit back and let someone else enjoy life.
Happy Birthday, Betty White. May you actually live to 120.