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Betty White to receive SAG Lifetime Achievement Award

September 15, 2009 |  4:24 pm

BettyWhite2Story About Time Department: Television legend Betty White will be honored by the Screen Actors Guild with its  Lifetime Achievement Award for career achievement and humanitarian accomplishment at the 16th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Jan. 23, 2010 (set your TiVos now).

More than just the sum of her "Golden Girls" role, White has been active on film, television and radio since the 1940s, She got her big break here in Los Angeles on KLAC's variety series "Hollywood on Television," which soon led to her first Emmy with the series "Life With Elizabeth" in the 1950s. White served as co-producer of the show -- a rarity during the period. White soon added talk show host to her growing C.V. with "The Betty White Show," and frequent game show contestant, most notably on "Password," which was hosted by her husband, Allen Ludden.

White's career got a boost in the '70s when she was cast as the sweetly venomous Sue Ann Nivens on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," which brought her another Emmy. The critical praise made her a staple of '70s and '80s television, which included her own short-lived series, "The Betty White Show," and a stint as the first female game show host with NBC's "Just Men," which brought her another Emmy.

In 1985, she landed another hit series with "Golden Girls"; her gentle, befuddled Rose brought her first Emmy as a lead actress and a host of other accolades, as well as reprisals of the role in no less than three subsequent series. By the '90s, she had become a go-to guest star on television series, and racked up another Emmy for an appearance on "The John Larroquette Show." She went on to wow audiences with repeat turns as a blackmailer on David E. Kelley's "The Practice" (another Emmy nomination) and "Boston Legal." 2009 saw her 18th (count 'em) Emmy nod for a one-shot as The Crazy Witch Lady on "My Name is Earl." By this point, White's mantle was a crowded affair, with the American Comedy Award's Lifetime Achievement Award, a Paley Center for Media tribute, a Career Achievement Award from the Television Critics Association, and a Disney Legends Award, among many others, fighting for equal space.

In addition to her television career, White has been active in features, most recently in "The Proposal" (2009) opposite Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. Other screen appearances include "The Story of Us" (1999) and "Bringing Down the House" (2003).

White was also a dedicated campaigner for animal rights. She is president emeritus of the Morris Animal Foundation and has been a trustee since 1971. She first learned about the Foundation's support of research studies to protect, treat and cure animals while creating, producing and hosting "The Pet Set," the 1970-71 syndicated series featuring celebrities and their pets. She received the American Veterinary Medical Association's Humane Award in 1987. A member of the board of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association since 1974, she served as a Zoo Commissioner for eight years. In February 2006, White was honored by the City of Los Angeles with a bronze plaque placed next to the Gorilla Exhibit at the Los Angeles Zoo naming her "Ambassador to the Animals" for her life-long work for animal welfare. In 2007, Western University Veterinary School awarded her an honorary "Doctor of Humane Veterinary Sciences."

-- Paul Gaita

Photo credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times