We have lost a legend in the world of television, one of the true pioneers of Hollywood, and someone who deserved every ounce of praise that she received while she was living - that’s right, I’m talking about Betty White, the ultimate Golden Girl herself. From her start in radio to her time on television to her hilarious roles in movies, Betty White solidified herself as a force to be reckoned with throughout her eight decades of work in Hollywood.
Now, in honor of her passing, let’s take a look at some of the best Betty White movies and TV shows that are streaming right now, or that you can rent. Thank you for being a friend, Betty.
The Golden Girls (1985-1992)
If you’ve ever heard of Betty White, you probably know her from The Golden Girls, a hit sitcom that aired back in the eighties. This popular show follows four older women who were all divorced or widowed from their past husbands. Now, they live together, all under the same roof, with different hobbies and personalities that consistently clash and create hilarious situations.
If we’re talking about what Betty White is probably known the most for, it’s this show. The Golden Girls is beloved by so many people for the sheer amount of heart and love that was poured into the show, mixed in with its hilarious stars, including Betty White. Her character of Rose, while naive, was such a breath of fresh air to the show and always offered jokes that would make anyone smile, which could only be delivered by Betty White. It’s a classic sitcom anyone would love, so give it a shot if you haven’t seen it.
The Lorax (2012)
Based on the Dr. Seuss novel of the same name, The Lorax takes place in a world that is devoid of anything real - everything is fake, and there’s no real nature anywhere. But when a young boy finds out that the girl of his dreams wishes she could see a real tree for the first time, he sets out on an adventure to find one for her.
Betty White voiced Grammy Norma, one of the eldest people living in their fake world and who has some idea of what the world was like before and knows about the Once-ler, and almost instantly you can hear the character she adds to The Lorax. While the film itself has great messages on the preservation of nature and the importance of learning to care for the Earth, her character always had her funny moments, creating great sequences that make this movie enjoyable to watch. It’s definitely a fun kids movies.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1973-1977)
Here, we have two legends working together. The Mary Tyler Moore Show was one of the first sitcoms to ever portray a woman who was independent and living her own life, and of course, Betty White was a part of it. Featuring the starring actress, Mary Tyler Moore, we follow Mary, a young, kind woman who is working towards a long-lasting career in a TV station in Minneapolis, working in a male-dominated field.
Betty White played Sue Anne Nivens, and while White was already in the TV industry prior to her role in this show, this is one of her breakout roles. Sue was basically the total opposite of Mary, pretending to be the perfect housewife but behind the scenes, was quite the foul-mouthed woman with a thirst for competition. It’s amazing to see someone like Betty White, who is so cheerful, to play someone who is the complete opposite of her, and yet it works so well.
The Proposal (2009)
If you’re looking for a hilarious romantic comedy, check out The Proposal. In this film, starring Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock, an executive that hails from Canada is risking her life getting turned upside down when her visa is about to expire. So, in order to stay in the United States and not let all her work go to waste, she makes her assistant pretend to be her fiance - with hysterical results.
In all of her years of working, I personally love this appearance from Betty White the most. Playing the grandmother of Andrew (the assistant), she whole-heartedly embraced Bullock’s character and offered hilarious scenes in support of the couple, even faking a heart attack near the end so that Andrew could go after the woman that he loved later on in the film. She was funny, sweet, and everything you would expect Betty White to be. You just had to love her in this movie.
Hot In Cleveland (2010-2015)
In this hilarious sitcom, Hot in Cleveland follows three best friends, all in their 40s, who are on a plane trip to Paris. But when their plan is forced to land in Cleveland, the three of them come to the realization that their lives back home aren’t as fulfilling, and decide to stick around in the city for now on and start a new life - where they’re considered hot still.
Betty White plays Elka, the care-taker of the home that the three women are renting out, a sassy older woman who lives to make fun of people, enjoy life and drink plenty. Betty White was actually scheduled to just be in one episode, but her appearance was received so well, she was given a main role, and what a role that was. While the three women who lead Hot in Cleveland are great all on their own, Betty White added that extra bit of spice that this quartet of amazing females needed, and made us laugh every single week.
Life With Elizabeth (1953-1955)
When we say that Betty White had a very long, active career in television, we are not lying. Life With Elizabeth was one of Betty White’s first ever TV shows, showing the daily life of a wedded couple, showing different situations in their everyday world, often involving something silly happening later on.
While the show didn’t run for very long compared to some of her other work, Life With Elizabeth is what put Betty on the map. What made this show even more interesting is that instead of a regular one-story episode, the show was always split up into three separate segments, showing new stories every ten minutes. And, this was one of the earliest forms of fourth-well breaking, where the characters would actually talk to the audience.
Lake Placid (1999)
I bet you didn’t think you’d see a wicked horror movie on here, but here we are. Lake Placid tells the story of the ancient legend of a supposed crocodile that is rumored to be 30 feet long, and constantly terrifies the visitors of Black Lake in Maine. Deciding that this is the end of this terror, a group takes it upon themselves to take out this monster and kill it, somehow ending its reign of horror.
While she wasn’t a main character in the movie, White’s supporting role is hard to forget once you see it. Playing Delores, a seemingly innocent older woman who lives by the lake, was perfect for her because the character isn’t what she seems, and she has secrets. You’d never expect someone like Betty White to end up playing someone like this, but she does a great job of it. It’s also worth it just to see Betty White cuss. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed harder.
Toy Story 4 (2019)
It’s hard to top the masterpiece that was Toy Story 3, but the sequel that came out in 2019 got very close to it. Toy Story 4 is the fourth installment in the Toy Story series, this time following Woody, Buzz and the gang with their new owner, Bonnie, on a crazy adventure that takes them to a new world that they never would have imagined.
While Betty White wasn’t featured in the movie for long, her cameo is great. She plays Bitey White (see what they did?), a child’s teething toy that was put away in the closet once Bonnie got older, fashioned as a tiger. What makes this even better is that she was paired alongside several other comedy legends in that one cameo role, like Carol Burnett, Mel Brooks, and Carl Reiner, all speaking about how they wished they could be played with by Bonnie again. It’s a “blink and you’ll miss it” kind of moment, but such a great inclusion of her voice as well as several other great voice actors.
Her Saturday Night Live Episode (2010)
Saturday Night Live has been around for decades now, so it was only a matter of time before one of the queens of TV comedy herself, White, appeared on an episode. If you’ve lived under a rock for several years, SNL is a primetime comedy sketch show that airs on Saturday nights (hence the name), creating spoofs of pop culture, politics, and more.
Betty White hosted an episode of the popular sketch show back in 2010, and to this day I still consider it to be one of the best episodes out. Not only was her comedic timing perfect, her interactions with the cast members of that time (such as Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph and more) were so funny. The sketch of her getting interviewed by the Census worker still makes me laugh every time I watch it.
Next up, we have the popular crime procedural, Bones, that ran for several seasons. In this series, a forensic anthropologist, nicknamed “Bones,” and an FBI agent team up to try and solve murders through examining the remains of victims, with a new mystery every episode.
Betty White portrayed Dr. Beth Mayer, another forensic anthropologist within the world of Bones, during Seasons 11-12. While she was only in two episodes (“The Radioactive Panthers in the Party” and “The Carpals in Coy-Wolves”), her character was so memorable for her hilarious backstory about her past lovers or husbands and everything in between. I wish they had her on for more episodes but we can at least enjoy the time she was on there now.
The Bold And The Beautiful (2006-2009)
Last but not least, let’s take a look at The Bold and the Beautiful, a long-running soap opera that featured Betty White from Seasons 20 to 23. This show follows the Forrester family, known for their famous fashion line. But even if it looks like they have everything in the world, scandals, cheating, and more cause drama within their homes and around each other.
Betty White played Ann Douglas, the mother of Stephanie Forrester and Pam Douglas, in The Bold and the Beautiful popping up for several episodes throughout her three-season run on the show. She gave just the right amount of soapy lines, crazy drama, and everything else you would expect from a show like this, leading up to one of the most dramatic death scenes in soap opera history.
While Betty White is gone now, we will always have her iconic roles to remember her by. I’ll be watching The Proposal again in honor of her on her upcoming birthday - and maybe, you’ll have found a new show to love as well.
Big nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. Will forever hate season eight. Superhero and horror geek. And please don't debate me on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!
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