Monday, October 25, 2021

Betty White: More Fabulous Than She Seems (Part 2)

For Part 2 of my series on Betty White (originally planned as a nonfiction children's book), here's the opening of the book.


I’ve been a big fan of Betty White for decades. At one point it had been a few years since she was actively in the public eye. That’s when I spotted her in 1999 as the crazy lady who feeds a ginormous, man-eating alligator like it is a stray dog in the movie Lake Placid. What a perfect, nutty part for her! My fondest memories of Betty come from her roles on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Golden Girls. I loved her as the quirky grandmother in The Proposal, and Betty was the best part of Hot in Cleveland.

She is the definition of a Sassy Dame. You never know what she's going to say, whether it is scripted on a TV show or live on one of the many game shows she participated in over her career. But you could be sure it would be with a twinkle in her eye, very feisty, and always funny.

But there is so much more to Betty White’s life than what we see on the TV or movie screen. And so much more to love! Reading Betty White’s autobiography, Betty & Friends: My Life at the Zoo, I knew I’d found a kindred spirit. Just like Betty, I could spend hours sitting in front of one exhibit and watching the creatures inside. One of the greatest moments in my life was the day a dolphin at Sea World came right up to me at the side of the tank. She lifted up out of the water and opened her mouth to me, just like they do for the trainers. That dolphin stayed there a full minute while I touched her gently on the top of the nose and cooed like a 6-year-old girl. My family had to drag me away because I kept hoping she’d come back. I’m sure Betty would understand.

My teenage daughters are also big fans. Learning that Betty has a room full of stuffed animals in both of her homes, and talks to them like they are alive, did nothing to change this. I freely admit to having a huge collection of mini-plush characters, and I speak to them often. My daughters have been just as attached to their hundreds of “soft friends” since before they could talk. We think a visit with Betty’s collection would be delightful.

As I was considering the general idea of a series of books on amazing women for teen readers, Betty White came to mind immediately. I mean, how many actors out there have had a Facebook campaign set up to get them to host Saturday Night Live? When I asked my daughters if they would enjoy a biography of Betty White, but one written to their age level, interest, and well, attention span, they said that would be great. 

So keep reading, and I hope you discover that Betty White really is more fabulous than you realized.

Upcoming posts (by chapter) will include:

Chapter 1                   Hopes and Dreams

Chapter 2                   Animal Friends

Chapter 3                   Animals at Home

Chapter 4                   Marriage and Family

Chapter 5                   Beginnings of a Career

Chapter 6                   Sue Ann and Rose

Chapter 7                   Facebook and Snickers

Chapter 8                   Hot and Off Her Rocker

Chapter 9                   Stage Fright and Awards Shows

Chapter 10                 Advice and Success

Chapter 11                 Being 90

I guess that last chapter will have to be redone to "Being 100"! I'm sure she'll drop some great quotes about it when the day draws near. 

See you next week!

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Betty White: More Fabulous Than She Seems (Part I)

Back in 2012, I started researching and writing a book about the amazing Betty White that would be aimed at young readers. Maybe the kind of book used to research a project on Betty for school. I love the manuscript I ended up with, but publishing it the way I wanted was elusive. The book was picked up by an indie publisher at one point, but the cost and logistics of creating the book led us to mutually agree it wasn't going to work. 

Using so many quotes from Betty herself (from her multiple autobiographies) and paying the quite exorbitant fees for the use of photos made what I had created basically unpublishable. At least in the form of a book. What I've decided instead is to share all the amazing things I learned in the form of this blog. It made me sad to think all of that work would end up sitting in a drawer of my desk for all eternity. 

So over the next 14 weeks, I will be sharing a chapter every Monday morning. You can subscribe to this blog to have them arrive in your email box, or you can just check back every now and then to catch up. Week 14 will coincide with Betty White's 100th birthday. What a wonderful way to celebrate!

To begin, I'll share the fun facts I learned along the way. And in case you haven't been following Betty's illustrious career, at the end of this post is a list of all of her awards over the decades. It is simply remarkable. 

So sign up or join me for a bit of Betty in your week.

Betty looks a bit suspicious of that halo!

 Betty White Basics:

Born:  Betty Marion White, January 17, 1922, in Oak Park, Illinois

Moved to Los Angeles, California, when she was two years old.

Parents:  Horace and Tess White

Ancestry: Germanic, English, and Greek

Height:  5’ 4”

Married:  July 9, 1945 to Frederick Barker. Divorced in December of 1945.

                  November 8, 1947 to Lane Allan. Divorced in 1949.

                  June 14, 1963 to Allen Ludden. Widowed in June 1981.

                  Currently single.

Children: three step-children from her marriage to Allen Ludden--Martha, David, and Sarah Ludden

Pets: Currently, Betty has one golden retriever named Pontiac, a career-change guide dog from Guide Dogs for the Blind. Over her life there have been dozens of cats and dogs that came and went.

Religious Affiliation: member of the Unity Church

Political Views: Democrat

Fun Facts:

Betty does not know how to swim.

She was offered a job on The Today Show, but she didn’t want to move to New York. A young Barbara Walters was hired instead.

Her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was placed next to her husband’s (Allen Ludden).

She has a wax figure in the Madame Tussauds Hollywood Museum.

She is the oldest person ever nominated for an Emmy Award (in 2012 for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program for Betty White’s Off Their Rockers).

She is hard of hearing, so she likes small parties instead of large groups.

Hot dogs, Red Vines, potato chips, and French fries are her favorite foods. 

She is great at remembering names, but not faces. She may introduce herself to someone, even a big movie star, whom she has met before.

She says that writing is her favorite thing. She prefers to write in longhand. No computers.

Despite jokes she makes in interviews, she does not have an outrageous crush on actor/director Robert Redford, though she does admire him greatly.

Over the decades, she became a regular on many game shows, especially Password (hosted by her husband, Alan Ludden), bringing her sassy attitude and often "naughty" responses.

She loves to do needlepoint projects, and her house is filled with them.

She has at least one room full of stuffed animals.

She likes to be alone. She has a maid, a housekeeper, and an assistant. That’s it.

Significant Awards and Honors:

Honorary Forest Ranger, The United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service (2010)

Honorary Mayor of Hollywood, California (1955)

Global Leadership Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Jane Goodall Institute (2009)

Hosted the Rose Parade for 20 years

Received the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Humane Award (1987)

Women’s International Center (WIC) Living Legacy Award (1988)

Inducted into the Television Hall of Fame (1995)

Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (1988)

President Emerita of the Morris Animal Foundation and a Trustee since 1971

People’s Choice Award for Favorite TV Icon (2015)

Daytime Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award (2015)

Grammy Award for “Best Spoken Word Album” (2012) for the audiobook of her autobiography If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won’t)

TV Guide Award, Favorite TV Icon (2011)

Two Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series for Hot in Cleveland (2011 and 2012)

Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award (2010)

Television Critics Association Award for Career Achievement (2009)

American Comedy Award for Funniest Female Performer in a TV Series for The Golden Girls (1987), Funniest Female Guest Appearance in a TV Series for Ally McBeal (2000), and a Lifetime Achievement Award (1990)

Online Film & Television TV Hall of Fame for Actresses Award (1999)

Emmy Awards: Won 7 Awards, including Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (1986) for The Golden Girls and several more for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Host or Hostess in a Game or Audience Participation Show for Just Men (1983). She was the first woman to win this award.

Two Viewers for Quality Television Awards for Best Actress in a Quality Comedy Series for The Golden Girls (1987 and 1988)

Nominated for an additional four Golden Globes, fourteen Emmy Awards, sixteen Prime Time Emmys, four People’s Choice Awards, and three Screen Actors Guild Awards.

 For a full list, check out her IMDB page.



Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Apple Festival Fun and More

My Readers' Group Newsletter was sent out shortly. If you don't subscribe, here's a link to it. The biggest announcement this summer was the upcoming release of my newest book, Bianca: Journey to Ryuugito, Book 2 in the Princess Bianca Series. Watch for a cover reveal coming any day now! 

We had a fantastic time at the Lincoln Apple Festival last weekend. This was a new event for us, and I'm so glad we were able to participate and make so many new friends. 

Meg's Booth at the Apple Festival

Granddoggie Ivar stopped by to visit!
(with our older daughter Amanda)

While we were there, we celebrated the one year book anniversary of The Tigran Chronicles. Taliya has been finding her audience slowly over the last year, but I am still writing stories in that universe and expect to release more in the future--hopefully not in the middle of a pandemic. 

So now my office is in chaos again as we pack up for the massive War Eagle Craft Fair and Festival (October 14th - 17th). We will definitely be in Sharp's Field again (the fair on the mill side of the bridge), and we are usually in the same location in the first aisle across from the bridge. Come by and say hello, but be sure to get there early or be prepared to wait in a long line to get in. Based on the increased activity at every event so far this year, it's going to be a BUSY fair. 

Kimba and Hiro hope we will see you this October!


Starting on Monday, October 18th, I will be sharing my book for kids about the legendary Betty White, leading up to her 100th birthday on January 17th, 2022. Every Monday, I'll post the next chapter. Watch for it!