Betty White recalled the moment she was called “The First Lady of Television” by an adoring fan, and was pleased when she first heard it. But then she realized what it meant: “And then I heard her talking to her daughter a little later, and she said, ‘First lady, she’s that old. She was the first one way back.’ “
That was a joke, of course, one of several White made Monday during the 70th annual Primetime Emmy Awards as she was celebrated with a standing ovation and a showering of appreciation and love.
It was a fitting celebration of a woman 96 years old, but still out there working. White, known for her roles on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Golden Girls and Hot in Cleveland, has eight Emmy Awards, making her true show biz royalty.
White was all shtick and sentiment during her moment in the spotlight on the Microsoft Theater stage. Following the introductory ovation, she feigned leaving the stage, quipping, “I’m going to quit while I’m ahead.”
But she stayed, and reflected on how wonderful it was to still be working in the medium she loved.
“It’s incredible that I’m still in this business and you are still putting up with me … It’s incredible that you can stay in a career this long and still have people put up with you. I wish they did that at home.”
She gave a special shout-out to Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels. “I thought the biggest, most exciting night I’d ever had — I’m talking to Lorne Michaels now — was the night he gave me an honor. But boy, you topped yourself tonight, Lorne.”
White added later that she wanted to “thank Lorne Michaels for doing not only this tonight but all the wonderful things he’s done with me.” She quickly corrected herself, lest we miss the point: “Or for me.”
Check out the video above.