Archive for the ‘"Golden Girls"’ Category

Golden Girl Betty White Turns 90!

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Betty White celebrates her 90th birthday today! The Hot in Cleveland star is hot all over the globe these days, hosting Saturday Night Live, making memorable appearances on Community, and stealing scenes from Sandra Bullock in The Proposal. She’s a consummate comedienne with a quick wit that keeps audiences wanting more.

Born January 17, 1922 in Oak Park, Illinois, White got her start in television when the medium first emerged onto the American landscape back in 1939, appearing in a closed circuit presentation of “The Merry Widow” in the Los Angeles Packard Building. A natural from the start, she loved the rush of live television, and when regular programming began she was quickly tapped to be Al Jarvis’ right-hand woman on 1949’s Hollywood on Television, a 5.5 hour/day broadcast for KCLA TV that was largely a televised version of Jarvis’ radio program. White and Jarvis ad-libbed for over 30 hours of airtime/week:

In 1951 she starred in the first of what would be three Betty White Shows – this one a short-lived, half hour daytime program. She soon moved on to producing and starring in the 1952 sitcom Life with Elizabeth, and to hosting the second Betty White Show in 1954, a national network show for NBC that aired at noon.

From there, White hosted her first of 20 Rose Parades in 1955. She also spent 10 years hosting the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with Lorne Greene.

In 1955 White began appearing on television game shows, a pastime dear to her heart. A lover of games since childhood, she enjoyed playing What’s My Line?, Make the Connection, and many other Goodson/Todman games. As fate would have it, she made quite the connection when she appeared on Password and met future husband Allen Ludden, who hosted the program:

The third Betty White Show came along in 1957, a short-lived sitcom produced by and starring White, and in the 1960’s White made over 70 appearances on The Tonight Show with Jack Paar – one of her favorite programs. She then got to showcase her love of animals on The Pet Set, a 1971 show in which she interviewed celebrities and their pets. She appeared on The Carol Burnett Show in the mid-1970s (which led to her later role as “Ellen Harper Jackson” on Mama’s Family) and in 1973, got a call from casting director Ethel Winant to play the role of “Sue Ann Nivens,” the “neighborhood nymphomaniac” on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. White won two Emmys for the role and reminisced about the show’s famous series finale in her 1997 Archive interview:

The Mary Tyler Moore Show was both a critical and popular darling, and yet another hit comedy was in White’s future. She was up for the role of “Blanche Devereaux” on a new series called Golden Girls, which would make its debut in 1985. White explains how director Jay Sandrich (who directed many episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show) was instrumental in her winning the role of “Rose Nylund” instead:

White was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1995, and continues to bring laughter to millions as an ensemble player in projects for both the big and small screen. You can currently catch Betty White on TV Land’s Hot in Cleveland Wednesday nights at 10pm.

Happy birthday, Betty! Here’s to many, many more!

Watch Betty White’s full Archive interview here.

- by Adrienne Faillace

Would you believe… Bill Dana is 87!

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

The Archive wishes a very happy birthday to comedy legend Bill Dana, born October 5, 1924 as William Szathmary in Quincy, MA. Bill Dana is best-known for his alter-ego, José Jiménez: a character he played from 1959 until 1969 which garnered him international attention. What few may recall is that Bill first gained prominence as a writer  and producer for Steve Allen, Garry Moore, Milton Berle, Martha Raye and other comedy greats.

After graduating Emerson College in Boston in 1950 on the GI Bill, Dana began his career as a page at NBC’s famous Studio 6B while performing comedy in nightclubs around New York with partner Gene Wood. Sidelined from performing due to an injury, his career career took a major turn when he began writing stand-up routines for the young comedian Don Adams. The two developed a character that would later premiere on The Bill Dana Show as “Byron Glick”, the bumbling hotel detective. Glick’s lines like “Would you believe” and “missed it by that much” were first tested in Adams’ stand-up act, and would later become popular catchphrases by Adams’ “Maxwell Smart” on Get Smart.

On writing for Don Adams:

In the mid-50s his career got underway as he performed on The Imogene Coca Show and wrote for  The Martha Raye Show and the Spike Jones Show. A major turn came when Steve Allen hired him as a writer on The Steve Allen Show in 1956. working with Tom Poston, Don Knotts, Pat Harrington, Louis Nye, and many others.

On working with Steve Allen:

It was on The Steve Allen Show, in a bit with Pat Harrington in November, 1959 that Bill first introduced his character with “My name — José Jiménez.” In the clip below he describes how it came about:

On how he came up with José’s accent:

He starred in and produced The Bill Dana Show on NBC (1963-65). In this clip he discusses how he came to have his own show:

His comedy albums, as both José and as Bill Dana, were top-sellers in the 1960s. As “José” he was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. The first words from Earth to a man entering outer space were on May 5, 1961 from Deke Slayton to Alan Shepard in his Mercury –Redstone 3:  “OK, José, you’re on your way!” which thereafter entered the national lexicon. Although Dana retired the character in 1969, he continues to defend Jose as comedy “with dignity” and a character that was good at heart and full of innocence which he described as a “combination Robin Hood and Bilko”.

Dana went on to write for  many other television shows, including an episode of All in the Family which continues to rate by TV Guide as one of the Top 100 comedy episodes of all time – “Sammy’s Visit” featuring guest-star Sammy Davis, Jr.:

Dana is also known for his recurring role as “Uncle Angelo” on The Golden Girls, described in this clip:

In 2005, Dana co-founded the American Comedy Archives in effort to preserve the first-person stories of his fellow comedy pals, from Betty White to Jonathan Winters. He was honored by the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters in 2006, and received the Great American Comedy Festival’s Comedy Legend Award in 2009.

On his advice to young comedians:

For Bill Dana’s complete 2007 interview, visit

For more information about Bill Dana, visit

“Hot In Cleveland” comes to the TV Academy

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Betty White and the entire cast of TV Land’s “Hot in Cleveland” will appear on a panel Wednesday, March 30 at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in North Hollywood, Ca. The event will be moderated by Larry King and special guests include Carl Reiner and Jon Lovitz.

Betty sat for an Archive interview in 1997. See Betty White’s entire 2-hour interview online, here.

More info about the Hot in Cleveland event here. We will be posting interview footage from the red carpet, so stay tuned!

Silver Anniversaries of “The Golden Girls” and “227″

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

When The Golden Girls debuted on September 14, 1985, Variety called it “a funny, fast-paced, well-written sitcom with all the earmarks of a potential hit.”  They called it.  The series was a top ten hit for nearly its entire run and won Emmy Awards for each of its four leading players— Beatrice Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty.

On the very same day, another TV legend was getting a second wind, when The Jeffersons‘ Marla Gibbs starred in 227227 was also one of the most popular late-80s sitcoms, peaking at #14 in it’s second season. Breakout star Jackee Harry won the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress for her role as “Sandra Clark.”  Both series aired on NBC in the network’s Saturday night line-up.

The Archive of American Television has interviewed many of the creators of these two hit series, including stars Beatrice Arthur, Marla Gibbs, Rue McClanahan, and Betty White.  Visit the Archive’s “show pages” for The Golden Girls and 227, as we look back on these classic sitcoms.

Rue McClanahan, The Golden Girls’ “Blanche” & Maude’s Best Friend “Viv,” Has Died

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Rue McClanahan’s forty year TV career began with a regular role on soap opera Another World and guest roles on such series as All in the Family and Mannix. She’s best known for her work on the series Maude, Mama’s Family, and The Golden Girls. She won the Emmy Award in 1987 for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as “Blanche Devereaux” on The Golden Girls.

Click here for Rue McClanahan’s entire May 4, 2006 Archive of American Television interview.

Interview Description:

Rue McClanahan was interviewed for two-and-a-half hours in New York, NY. McClanahan talked about her acting start on the stage and touched on some of her feature films from the 1960s. She discussed her first regular role in television as scheming nurse “Caroline Johnson” on Another World. She recalled how, when her character tries unsuccessfully to poison the mother of the twins she is caring for, she received a fan letter recommending a better poison. She spoke in great detail about her role as “Vivian Cavender” best friend to Bea Arthur on the television sitcom Maude. She described her character, talked about working with the ensemble cast, and commented on memorable series episodes. She then talked about her work as series regular “Aunt Fran” on Mama’s Family. Lastly, she discussed at length the production of the classic 1980s sitcom The Golden Girls and her role of “Blanche Devereaux.” She talked about the casting process, working with the series production personnel, and the transition of the show into The Golden Palace. The interview was conducted by Jim Colucci.

In this excerpt from her interview, she discusses how different The Golden Girls actresses were from their characters:

Actress Beatrice Arthur Dies at 86 – Interview Online

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

Bea Arthur, the Emmy-winning star of Maude and The Golden Girls, who also garnered a Tony Award for the musical Mame, died Saturday at 86. In January, one of her last public appearances, she was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. She was interviewed by the Archive in 2001. Click here for her New York Times obituary (with a reference to our interview). The entire 2-1/2 hour interview can be viewed here.

When asked in her interview how she’d like to be remembered, she responded: “As an artist. An important artist.”

Here’s a selection of clips from the Archive’s interview:

Interview Description:

Beatrice Arthur was interviewed for two hours plus in Brentwood, CA. In the interview, Arthur talked about the origins of her stage name and how she started out in plays, off and on Broadway. She then talked about her first movie roles and her appearances on The George Gobel Show and Caesar’s Hour. She described her other early appearances on television in The Seven Lively Arts, Omnibus, Perry Como’s Kraft Music Hall and her role in the play and feature film Mame (with Angela Lansbury and Lucille Ball, respectively). She talked about her appearances on All in the Family as the liberal cousin Maude. She then discussed the controversial issues and topics that the series Maude tackled, (such as alcoholism, abortion, death, infidelity and feminism). Arthur also talked extensively about working with Norman Lear on All in the Family and Maude, watching the show 20 years after it first aired and why she eventually left the show. She then briefly talked about her series Amanda’s and then talked affectionately about The Golden Girls. The interview was conducted on March 15, 2001.

A Tribute to Betty White at the Academy!

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

This August, The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences will hold an event honoring, “Betty White: Celebrating 60 Years on Television”.  Many Archive interviewees will be on-hand for the event, including Ed Asner, Cloris Leachman, Gavin MacLeod, Mary Tyler Moore, and Bob Stewart. For more information about the event, visit the Academy’s website at
You can view an excerpt from Betty White’s Archive Interview by clicking here, where she discusses her Emmy win for her role as “Sue Ann Nivens” on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Interview Description: Betty White

In this 5-part oral history interview, Betty discusses her early career and television work, including “The Betty White Show”, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”, “Mama’s Family”,  and “The Golden Girls“. Conducted June 4, 1997 by Tony Fantozzi. Click here to view the entire interview.

Archive News: We are very sorry to report that Estelle Getty, Betty’s co-star on The Golden Girls, has passed away. We wish her family and friends the very best.

The TVLand Awards: A Sneak Preview!

Saturday, June 14th, 2008

Sunday marked the 6th Annual TV Land Awards, and the Archive was represented in full effect!

Archive staff attended the gala event, held in Santa Monica, which airs this Sunday June 15 on TvLand, one of our sponsor partners.

Many of our Archive Interviewees were honored, including a special tribute to producer Garry Marshall, and the Golden Girls’ Bea Arthur, Betty White, and Rue McClanahan!

Jonathan Winters (pictured here with Archive Digital Projects Manager Jenni Matz) was given the “Pioneer Award” by Robin Williams, and Mike Meyers was on-hand to receive a “Legacy of Laughter” award from Justin Timberlake.

The day began with a red carpet gala with special guests from Barry Williams to Cindy Williams. We spotted Get Smart’s original ‘Agent 99′, Barbara Feldon, Star Trek’s William Shatner, and ‘The Fonz’– Henry Winkler!

En route from the parking lot I bumped into Dick Van Dyke, who was gracious enough to thank ME for remembering HIM from his interview.

We can’t spill the beans on ALL the surprises the night brought, but be sure to tune in to see it all.

For Golden Girls Fans in Los Angeles, the Sequel

Saturday, January 20th, 2007

Join author Jim Colucci for a look inside the world of The Golden Girls this Sunday, January 21st, 2 PM at the Santa Monica Public Library (601 Santa Monica Blvd). We attended his last book signing (Archive of American Television: For Golden Girls Fans in Los Angeles) and are happy to report that Jim is an engaging speaker and really knows the show. Also planned, a panel discussion focusing on the show’s enduring appeal to the gay and lesbian community with writers Marc Cherry, Stan Zimmerman, Winifred Hervey, Robert Bruce, and Richard Vaczy. A booksigning follows.

Jim’s book, The Q Guide to the Golden Girls chronicles the genesis and key gay-themed episodes of The Golden Girls with interviews with the stars, producers, writers and viewers. (Excerpts of Archive interviews are also included.)

For Golden Girls Fans in Los Angeles

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

This Wednesday, October 18th, those of you in the Los Angeles-area can join author Jim Colucci at 7:30 pm at the A Different Light bookstore (8853 Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood) for a signing of his book, The Q Guide to The Golden Girls. Also to be in attendance: Sirius OutQ host Frank DeCaro, author of the book’s introduction, and Glen Hanson, the book’s cover artist.

The book chronicles the genesis and key gay-themed episodes of The Golden Girls with interviews with the stars, producers, writers and viewers. In fact, parts of Archive of American Television interviews with Rue McClanahan (which Jim conducted) and Beatrice Arthur were cited in the book.