Actress and comedian Betty White died on December 31, 2021, just short of her 100th birthday.
Dick botched the notification system we have in place yet again. We are having a serious re-think about the current system.
I had to point out that “we are not OK.”
When your life spans the 1960s to the present and all the TV that was on offer through those years, and you are, as I was and am, a devoted TV viewer, you can’t escape having feelings for Betty White.
Mine are positive, in recognition of all that she accomplished.
I think that the character of Sue Ann Nivens, that she played on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” from 1973 to 1977 is one of the great iconic comedy characters. She was the character you were happy to be most annoyed at—for her duplicitous demeanor, for being superficially cheery, for never being able to resist a chance to undermine others with veiled comments, for her unbridled competitive nature, and of course for her man-obsessed behavior (especially in regards to “Lou Grant).
She was at once funny, and pitiable, and memorable. A cautionary tale of what women answering a call to feminism weren’t supposed to follow as a role model.
But she was human—successful at her job, and deeply flawed.
That made her interesting, and it made the jokes hit home harder. White walked a tightrope of nuanced balance and made it look effortless.
I was never a devoted fan of “Golden Girls,” though I’ve probably seen all of the episodes. I’ve only seen a string of episodes of “Hot in Cleveland” because by the second season I was caught up in the sweep of “Game of Thrones” and starting to go down the path of “Zombies.”
Whenever I did see her on TV however, I would stop and watch, and enjoy.
I loved seeing her guest star in other TV shows and pop up in movies. I still love the 1999 movie “Lake Placid” only because of Betty White.
She made every performance, even small ones, count, because she had the ability, with her facial gestures and those dancing eyes, to sell the character.
I’m glad our lives overlapped and I was able to enjoy her career.
She also taught me, among other things, that if your eyes twinkle you can get away with saying a lot of shit. And if you hit on a hairstyle that works for you early in life you’re good to go!
So Roz Why Aren’t You Sketching Betty?
If you have bothered to really look at Betty White you’d have realized that she is stunningly beautiful. Symmetrical features, the whole bit. She has been since she was a young woman. She still was even in advanced age. Look at her press photos and you can see it when she had dark hair as a young woman, all through life. She had an actress persona to keep up. A face to give to the world.
While it is pleasant to see, when looking at her in later years that she has many smile lines streaming around her eyes (which let us hope she enjoyed her real life as well as her work), it still doesn’t make her any easier to capture on paper.
And I exaggerate features, it’s how I draw. I typically don’t draw women because their features are too symmetrical, too made up and covered by make up, or too lost and guarded in their view. It doesn’t interest me to draw any of those things.
In White’s case I like her too much to crack that face with bold brush lines or lose the light in those alert-like-a-bird’s eyes.
So I declared it opposite-day and drew a woman Earth’s World captured at a Fair—someone who wasn’t symmetrical and didn’t have a good skin care regimen.
Contrast helps us see things more clearly. Just like Sue Ann Nivens helped us see so much more clearly in the 1970s.
Update January 8, 2022
I just received an email from the New Yorker listing some recent articles to read. It included this link to a wonderful short tribute to Betty White by Susan Orlean.
It’s a short but wonderful tribute that captures White.