Betty White on Being 97 and Still Loving Life: ‘I’ve Been So Spoiled Rotten!’

May 3, 2019 Updated: May 3, 2019

The beautiful Betty White turned 97 years old in January 2019. It’s okay, we’ll wait for you to pick your jaw up from the ground! We can hardly believe it either, but the icon, actress, and comedian has the longest small-screen career of any American female entertainer: she’s even in the record books for it. The six-time Emmy winner has brightened TV screens for over 80 years.

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“I got an award for everything,” White exaggerated to Parade, with trademark sweetness and good humor. “Inhaling, exhaling; I’ve been so spoiled rotten.”

In honor of her 97th year on earth and the secret behind that irresistible, dimpled smile, White recently opened up about her life, her loves, and being treated like a queen. We’ve got a lot to learn from the Golden Girls veteran and honorary Mayor of Hollywood, not least how to take even the most serious events with a tiny pinch of salt.

A headshot portrait of the beautiful Betty White wearing a veiled hat, circa 1955 (©Getty Images | Hulton Archive)

“Enjoy life!” White shared enthusiastically. “Accentuate the positive, not the negative.” Following this up with a quick disclaimer that it may sound “trite,” White then proceeded to identify society’s natural gravitation toward complaining. “It’s not hard to find great stuff if you look,” she countered.

“I get bored with people who complain about this or that,” she confided. “It’s such a waste of time!”

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White, whose widely beloved Golden Girls co-stars sadly passed away in 2008, 2009, and 2010 respectively, had some pertinent advice for older women, too. “Don’t try to be young,” she gently chastized.” Just open your mind. Stay interested in stuff. There are so many things I won’t live long enough to find out about, but I’m still curious about them.”

Animals, for one, have brought the compassionate actress much joy over the years. White is a trustee on the board of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association, and even published a book titled Betty & Friends: My Life at the Zoo, chronicling her favorites.

White poses in the press room at the 16th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in LA, 2010 (©Getty Images | Alberto E. Rodriguez)

Those million dollar dimples say it all, but another reason why White greeted her 97th birthday with such gusto was that she’s never forgotten how to laugh. White laughs from deep within, every single day, and always like she means it.

“I know it sounds corny,” she said, “but I try to see the funny side and the upside, not the downside.”

Laughter, and … anything else? Well, Robert Redford, actually! As it turns out, White has been hankering after a birthday phone call from her favorite rugged, Oscar-winning actor for years now, and her 97th birthday was no exception. White has had a soft spot for Redford for decades, “but it never works,” she revealed. “I try every year!”

White attends a premiere party in West Hollywood on Jan. 10, 2011 (© Getty Images | Charley Gallay)

As of 2019, Redford has yet to make that call, but a different actor with an alliterative name came into the foreground to wish his idol many happy returns in January: Ryan Reynolds!

Reynolds posted a hilarious and heartwarming Instagram tribute to his friend and former co-star on her special day. “I don’t usually post about ex-girlfriends,” Reynolds began, doubtless with a twinkle in his eye, “but Betty’s special. Happy Birthday to the one and only, @bettymwhite.”

Be still our beating hearts! Sources suggest that White enjoyed delicious cake and a game of poker with friends on her birthday. Was that all? “One cocktail before dinner is fine,” the actress once famously told Bon Appetit. “If I’m out with friends, I’ll probably have a second!”

Here’s hoping she did, and here’s raising a glass to you, Betty White. You’re wearing 97 beautifully.