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Emmys: Betty White 'so thrilled I can't see straight!'

July 14, 2011 |  9:17 am

Betty White Emmy nomination

Talk about your comebacks. Was there a time when the world didn't love Betty White? Not at the Emmys. White has received so much Emmy love over the years that the awards should be renamed the Bettys. But for the octogenarian comedic actress, the recognition never grows old.

How did you take the news?

I’m still in shock. I’m so thrilled I can’t see straight!

Did you think you might score a nomination?

Not a chance! I didn’t even remember this was the day.

Your "Hot in Cleveland" costars didn't receive the recognition you did today, does that upset you? 

You know [sighs heavily], Valerie [Bertinelli], Wendie [Malick] and Jane [Leeves] -- I represent the four gals. I wish with all my heart one of them had done this -– there’s no way of separating us. I think somebody made a big mistake. We’re having the best time on the show. It’s the happiest set I’ve ever been on. This is such a thrill.

I’m going to be 90 in January and to get this thrill now, I can’t be coy about it. Cloris [Leachman] is still way ahead of me, though.

How will you spend the rest of the day?

I’m going to take my Pontiac -- that’s my golden retriever -- to the vet, he has an appointment. No champagne brunch for me. But I’ll be sitting and smiling all day.

How did your role evolve?

You know, she’s not a very nice lady -- she’s just the broad the other gals got stuck with when they moved to Cleveland. I did the pilot with the idea that I wouldn’t get involved if it got picked up. You do so many pilots and they hardly ever get picked up. But I did the pilot and had such a wonderful time with the girls. So when we got picked up, I’d had such a wonderful time, I said, "Sure, I’ll do a couple more."  I have the backbone of a jellyfish!  

What's the atmosphere on set like?

There’s not even slightly any competition. I hear these horror stories -- sets where people don’t speak except when the cameras are rolling. How do you do comedy if you don’t enjoy each other? One hazard is we’re all prone to break-ups … we get hysterical with laughing easily. We hang out together. We laugh and we talk and we enjoy being together. Every week. It’s a privilege.

Also, it’s such a great break to be doing it in front of a live audience. For a while, multicamera shows in front of a live audience were starting to go away. I can’t tell you what the audience adds. It changes our timing completely.

What else lies ahead for you?

I’ll be 90 in January! I’m working on another book -- this one’s about the L.A. Zoo and my friends there: my four-legged friends. It’s a [nonfiction] picture book. I’ve been working with the zoo as a volunteer and board member for 40 years. A lot of the animals are personal friends.

And I have a new game show. I’m executive producing and introducing the various sketches. It was a big hit in Europe and they asked me to do it here. It’s older people getting the jump on younger ones and getting the last laugh!


Emmys: Best comedy nominees

Emmys: Comedy actor, actress nominees

Emmys: Comedy supporting actor, actress nominees

-- Deborah Vankin

Photo: Betty White. Credit: Matt Sayles / Associated Press