Betty White Lived a Wonderful Life

Herbie J Pilato
Betty White and her smile[The Classic TV Preservation Society]

Is it possible to be kind to everyone all the time, to be pleasant and cordial 24–7, as Golden Girls star Betty White had done for decades?

Her long life and remarkable career filled most of her 99 years. She was a talented actress and comedian. She dedicated a good portion of her time and money to various social causes, none the least of which included her advocacy for animals.

As one of the first "TV stars" of the medium, White was a pioneer and a trailblazer on the small and big screens. She was featured in everything from sitcoms to game shows to motion pictures. Her sense of humor was sometimes brazen, but always welcome. She refused to put up with any guff from network executives or co-workers, and she always spoke her mind.

As when future "Lawrence Welk Show" dancer, Arthur Duncan, an African-American, was confronted with racism, early in his career. White had hired him to be on one of her early television programs, but certain network executives were against the decision to cast Duncan.

White, however, was having none of it, and she told those network suits to take a hike.

But she somehow managed to tell them to take a hike in a kind way.

According to what White once noted to talk show host Larry King, that’s why fellow Golden star Bea Arthur apparently disliked her in real life. White had too much of a Pollyanna view of life for Arthur’s taste.

But White must have done something right because she lived to 99-years-old, while Arthur, bless her heart, passed 12 years before.

So, that begs a few questions.

If Arthur had thrown more “I love you’s” around at every turn, might she have lived as long as White, even if her sentiments may or may not have been sincere? Is blanket-loving everyone, everywhere not an authentic way to live? Is behaving with unconditional kindness, and understanding equal to keeping one’s head in the sand and ignoring and refusing to acknowledge the various evils of the world? Is embracing all the hate, on and off social media, for example, the answer? Or would that answer instead have something more to do with retreat said-head back into that sand?

Medical research has confirmed the various health benefits of retaining a positive attitude; to remain upbeat in the face of the challenge, etc. If so, walking around, being as pleasant as possible to everyone, might help to meet that productive objective.

But is it even possible to be kind to everyone, all the time in this world, which many, scientists, optimists, and religious-minded-sorts alike have suggested and labeled as broken? Can such a troubled world be fixed by unconditional loving-kindness? Does this kind of loving mean that everyone has to agree with everyone else on a frequent, consistent basis? What about loving those who are not kind people or who constantly say and do hurtful things? Are we supposed to love them, too?

The answer is yes, according to various religious, spiritual, and psychological beliefs.

And to Betty White.

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Writer/producer Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including biographies of Mary Tyler Moore, and "Bewitched" star Elizabeth Montgomery. He also writes for,, and is the host and an executive producer of "Then Again with Herbie J Pilato," a classic TV talk show.

Los Angeles, CA

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