That Time Anthony Mackie Thought Betty White Was Totally Flirting With Him

Tom in red suit jacket on Solos
(Image credit: Amazon Studios)

The universe got a little less right at the tail end of 2021, as comedy legend and all-around sweetheart Betty White passed away less than three weeks shy of her 100th birthday. Ever since, the Internet has been flooded with A+ clips from her long career, as well as untold numbers of memories shared by White's celeb friends. An abundance of both were featured in the primetime special Celebrating Betty White: America’s Golden Girl, which NBC aired in tribute a month after the icon’s death. In it, White’s flirtatious nature sparked part of the discussion, with Marvel star Anthony Mackie amusingly weighing in on a time when he thought she was hitting on him.

Although Betty White was never an official part of the MCU, one can only assume she would have wanted to take flight around New York City with Sam “Falcon” Wilson, at least after learning about Anthony Mackie introducing himself to the Golden Girls all-star. Here’s how he put it during the special

We were at this event in New York, and I saw her and said, ‘That’s Betty White.’ So I ran across the room, pushed my way, and asked if I could meet her. I said, ‘Hello, I’m such a big fan. My name’s Anthony Mackie,’ and she says, ‘Oh, you’re so beautiful. I wish I was 40 years younger.’ The thing is, she gently touched my face so softly, like a butterfly whispering in the wind, and when she spoke to me, she made sure nobody else could hear her. And I’m like, ‘I think she’s hitting on me, dawg!’ [Laughs.]

I think many of us would agree that Anthony Mackie does have a face that seems ripe for soft touches, so it’s not hard to understand why Betty White might have pulled such a move. It’s probably a bit more low-key than calling him “Toots” and smacking his bottom with a rolled up newspaper, as would be the stereotype had they met decades prior. (But as if they were their same ages, of course, and not as if White met Mackie when he was an infant.)

Betty White's knack for creating comedy out of supposed sexual chemistry has long been one of her many talents, and the NBC special showcased a few occasions when she spiced things up. In particular, her reactions to Jason Momoa will always be the stuff of legend.

But Momoa is a DCEU star, and we're talking about an MCU star at the moment. A short while after Anthony Mackie shared his tale, he offered a lighthearted follow-up, saying:

It was all in good fun. She was just there to make people laugh. And I will remember that moment forever.

As one should. If only everyone was lucky enough to have such a memorable encounter with one of TV's brightest stars. 

In case you missed it the first time around, Celebrating Betty White: America’s Golden Girl is currently available to stream on Hulu, with appearances from other stars such as White’s Hot in Cleveland castmate and subsequent dinner-sharer Valerie Bertinelli, The Tonight Show’s Jimmy Fallon, Bryan Cranston, archival footage of Mary Tyler Moore, and more.

After watching, be sure to check out our takes on the best Golden Girls episodes for Rose, as well as all of Betty White’s other great movies and TV shows, with our 2022 TV Premiere schedule there to clue everyone in on what new and returning shows are on the way soon.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.