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Watch: Betty White Talks to Emerson About Comedy, Life

Betty White speaks on green couch with screen in background
Betty White interviewed in March 2005.

The comedy world lost a timeless legend last week when Betty White died at 99, but Emerson has a little piece of her wisdom, warmth, and humor preserved for posterity.

The television pioneer, best known for her roles in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Golden Girls, and most recently, Hot in Cleveland, was one of the first comics interviewed for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College.

The interview was conducted in March 2005 by the two co-founders of the Comedy Archives: alumnus comedian Bill Dana ’50, who passed away in 2017, and Jenni Matz, director of The Interviews: An Oral History of Television, a production of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

In the hourlong interview, White talks about her experiences on Mary Tyler Moore and The Golden Girls, her love of puns, humor as the best defense, the rhythm of comedy, her work on behalf of animals, and much more.

Dana asked White if she felt like her life in comedy was worth it.

“Oh my goodness, yes,” White replied, “and I don’t know how I lucked in, but boy, I’m tasting every minute, and that’s one thing I would like to say:

“Don’t look back on something and say, ‘Gee, that wasn’t that great, I didn’t realize it at the time.’ Realize it at the time. Realize as you go along. Taste it for what it is now. …Don’t just take it for granted and then look back on it. Look at it now.”

Watch the Betty White ACA Oral History

Read the transcript

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