A Look at Betty White’s Most Iconic Roles Through Her Career

Today would've been White’s 101st birthday.
By Madison E. Goldberg
(Photo by Bob Riha, Jr./Getty Images)

The iconic comedienne and actress Betty White passed away on New Year’s Eve in 2021, and today would’ve been her 101st birthday. A trailblazer for women in entertainment, White’s career spanned eight decades in front of and behind the camera.

Today, Hollywood and fans alike celebrate her life in her honor. 

White was known for bringing a smile to audiences far and wide, whether it was on the big screen or in post-show interviews. Her warm personality and relatable sense of humor left a lasting impression on generations of her viewers.

Here’s a look at some of Betty White’s best performances over the course of her groundbreaking career.

Elizabeth in Life With Elizabeth (1953-1955)

This 50’s sitcom ran on ABC for two years, and follows Elizabeth and her husband Alvin (Del Moore) as they land themselves in humorous predicaments in their ordinary suburban life.

It was shot in one of LA’s first major television studios, and Betty White earned her first Emmy nomination for her role. Many episodes consisted of dialogue between only White and Moore, with White’s character carrying a lot of the comedic elements of the show.

Sue Anne Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-77)

In the latter seasons of the smash hit The Mary Tyler Moore Show, White plays the lovable boy crazy afternoon TV host Sue Anne Nivens.

The show follows a newly single Mary Tyler Moore as she moves to Minneapolis to become a news producer at a local station called WJM, and the friendships she forms with her coworkers. White’s character hosts the fictional Happy Homemaker’s Show. The show was a huge step for feminist storylines in television, and was one of the first to feature stories about single, working women. 

Rose Nylund in The Golden Girls (1985-1992)

The highly acclaimed sitcom is arguably one of White’s most memorable roles, with the show winning an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series twice.

The show is centered on three middle aged women and one of their mothers, all but one widowed and one a divorceé, as they share a house in Miami and navigate dating and career changes in their 50s and 60s. White’s character Rose was from Minnesota, and many of her comedic lines are references to her childhood in the Midwest or her lack of common sense despite random pockets of knowledge.

Grandma Bunny Byer in You Again (2010)

This ensemble comedy film stars Kristen Bell as Marni Olivia Olsen as she returns to her hometown for her brother (James Wolk as Will Olsen)’s wedding, only to find that he is marrying her high school bully, JJ Clark (Odette Yustman).

White plays Bell’s character’s grandmother, and she too is reunited with her high school nemesis at the wedding (Chloris Leachman). 

Today, fans not only remember her for her performances, but for all of the good she did in the world. 

Happy birthday Betty White, may your legacy live on.