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YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsBetty White

The girl is still golden to her younger admirers

September 12, 2010|By Yvonne Villarreal, Los Angeles Times

When she shuffles into a room, her white, cotton-candy-esque hair in place and her fingernails a perfectly manicured pink, one can't help but think: "Betty Omigod White in the house."

Just ask Jamie Lee Curtis. That was her reaction when the octogenarian took a break between takes of the bridal shower scene on the set of Disney's "You Again" at the Langham Huntington hotel in Pasadena last summer and moseyed down a corridor.

"If there was a funny word for 'it girl' … if we could come up with a geriatric word for 'it girl,'" Curtis said. "First of all, her ability to get a laugh — there's nobody who is funnier than this woman in this movie. And she has such a good time doing it. It's such a pleasure … she loves this job, and it's so infectious that you can't help but be happy when Betty White is around."

The female-centric comedy, directed by Andy Fickman ("She's the Man," "Race to Witch Mountain"), centers on Marni ( Kristen Bell), a former geek who discovers her brother is about to marry the girl who bullied her in high school. What unfolds is a series of attempts to expose the fiancée's true colors. In the process, Marni's mom, played by Curtis, also comes face to face with her own rival ( Sigourney Weaver). White plays Marni's grandmother, who is well-versed in social network phenoms like Facebook and "The Twitter."

"Its very difficult to look over and see Sigourney and not be, like, I am working with Ripley" from "Alien," Fickman said. "And then you see Jamie and you're, like, Laurie Strode [' Halloween'] and Ripley are gonna go at it. And then Betty White comes in, and you're calling your mom. Everything that the woman says is just genius."

That seems to be the consensus as Betty Mania continues to sweep the nation. With a Snickers ad, an Emmy-winning "Saturday Night Live" hosting gig and a hit TV Land comedy show, at 88, White's career — which includes memorable roles on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "The Golden Girls" — has kicked into overdrive, with no Betty Backlash in sight.

"Oh, I am the luckiest old broad on two feet," White said. "I have no idea what's happening. At my age, to be working this much, I am so deeply grateful. And everybody says, 'I keep seeing you. Will you go away already?' But as long as they keep asking, I'm not about to say no."

It's a career resurgence that was set in motion by her scene-stealing role in another Disney comedy, "The Proposal," with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, in which she played free-spirited Grandma Annie. And she's sure to be equally distracting with her deadpanned zingers in "You Again." During the rehearsal dinner scene, a waiter goes by and offers, "Amuse bouche?" White's response: "Not since college."

But White is too modest to admit to taking all the attention. "Do you want to try and steal a movie away from Jamie Lee Curtis and Sigourney Weaver?" she said. "There's a trick."

Still on her bucket list? Working with Robert Redford.

"Anytime anyone asks me whatever I want in any department ... Robert Redford suits me."

yvonne.villarreal@latimes.com

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