An American Inspiration Betty White English Literature Essay

Grace Gregory

English 9

Mrs. Bratt

An American Inspiration: Betty White

Over the course of one’s life, they overcome life struggles and make heroic efforts. These things help them earn the title "hero." Betty White is a hero not only to me, but to many people living in America today. There are many aspects that make Betty White an American hero. She overcame challenges and impacted society for the better. Betty White will be forever remembered in history and is an icon that future generations can look up to for inspiration.

On January 17, 1922, Betty Marion White was born in Oak Park, Illinois to Horace and Tess White, and they moved to Los Angeles when she was two ("Betty White"). Practically from the time she was born, Betty loved animals. During the Depression her father made radios and sold them. Many people did not have money to pay for them, so they were traded for dogs. At one point they even got to at least fifteen dogs! Most girls her age had collected dolls and such but not Betty. She collected stuffed animals. As a child she wanted to be a forest ranger or a zoo keeper. Unfortunately, at that time a girl could not be either (White, If You Ask Me...,107, 181-213).

Betty White went to Beverly Hills High School in Beverly Hills, California and graduated in the class of 1939. Betty married her first husband, Dick Barker, in 1945; they were divorced later in 1945. In 1947 she married her second husband, Lane Allen (whose real name is Albert Wooten). They were divorced in 1949. On June 14, 1963, Betty White married her third and final husband, Allen Ludden. They were married until Ludden’s death in 1981. The only children Betty had were her step-children David, Martha, and Sarah Ludden ("Betty White").

One month after Betty graduated high school she made her first (and unpaid) appearance on television. Ten years later in 1949 was the first time she was paid to be on television. After this, she has popped up in numerous television shows and commercials. One of her favorite shows that she did combined both of her passions: show business and animals. The Pet Set was created in 1970 and was a "...celebrity-oriented animal show that would be as all-inclusive as I could make it." (White, Here We Go Again, 178). On the show, Betty would have a celebrity and his or her pet come to the studio and have a brief interview. After that, the pet could be excused and the celebrity would stay for more segments of the show. She even worked with a lion and a tiger on the show! Betty said that The Pet Set was her dream show. (White, Here We Go Again,13-16, 178). As for her other work with animals, Betty has been on the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association Board since 1974, and has worked with them over forty seven years ("Betty White Biography")! Betty was even made an Honorary Forest Ranger by the United States Forest Service (White, If You Ask Me..., 109)!

Betty White has had a seven-decade career in Hollywood, and her time is still counting! As I said before, she had starred in many television shows, including her latest: Hot In Cleveland and Betty White’s Off Their Rockers, but who can forget about her role in Golden Girls (White, If You Ask Me..., 41-51)? She had also starred in the Snickers Super Bowl commercial (Newman, New York Times). With the help of a Facebook campaign that persuaded Betty, she became the oldest host on Saturday Night Live. Through the course of her career, Betty White has turned down the hosting job three times and three broadway shows. She is a seven-time emmy winner and has written several books (White, If You Ask Me..., 41-63).

There are many ways that Betty White’s heroism impacted society. One of the things that really makes an impact in our time is that she does all of the things she does and still stays in good health. She doesn’t extreme diet or anything like that to be fit; she eats right and exercises in a healthy manner. She’s productive with her time, showing us that we don’t have to spend all our time being couch potatoes! Betty is ninety-one and is still active and productive! She gives everyone hope to never give up. If Betty gave up after her first show was done, she wouldn’t be where she is now, and now she has seven emmys! She reminds me, and all others that if one thing doesn’t work out, there’s surely something else out there that will. One other important thing that impacts society was that she’s ninety-one and not afraid to show it. She reminds us that age is but a number, not a limit. For example, in her book If You Ask Me (And Of Course You won’t), she says "I don’t feel eighty-nine years old. I simply am eighty-nine years old." (White, If You Ask Me..., 257).

Betty White stood for many things. The main thing she stood for was the well being of animals. She would randomly stop by an animal shelter unannounced to make sure everything was going well. Animals are her passion, and she does so much charity for them. It’s truly amazing. She stands for hope for aspiring actors, comedians, anyone in show business, or anyone at all to never give up hope. She’s done so many different shows and commercials, and look where she is now! She stood for looking for the good in every situation. If she didn’t get a part, then there is surely a better one out there waiting for her.

Though Betty is a very successful actress, she had faced many challenges, just like most of us. There is always the challenge of not getting the part. Whether you’re going for a job, a role, a spot and a squad, or anything, there is always that challenge, and I’m sure all of us can relate. For Betty, there was a challenging part in her career where it was hard to find a steady job. There was a period of time where she just guest starred and did commercials and such. She overcame this, and is now in the popular show Hot In Cleveland and has her own show, Betty White’s Off Their Rockers! One of the reasons why she’s glad to have a steady job with an income is because she needs to make sure she can still afford to help animals! What keeps Betty going and what helps her overcome things is that she knows that her late husband is always with her to help her out (White, If You Ask Me..., 35).

There are many standards that make Betty White a hero. For starters, she makes people feel better with laughter. She set out to accomplish her dreams, and she did even more! Not only did she succeed in her acting career, but she made her childhood dreams a reality by also becoming a forest ranger and a zoo keeper! Betty stayed with the career she loved and even though she probably had second thoughts at some point, she stayed with it and kept on going. One of the main reasons that I feel she is a hero is her passion for animals. She cares for them and gives them so much that it’s truly amazing. She uses a lot of the money she makes and a lot of her time to help the welfare of animals, and that’s a really big hero characteristic to me.

There are so many reasons why Betty White will be remembered. She will be remembered for her wit, charm, sense of humor, and ,many more things. She will definitely be remembered for all the television shows she has been in. Everyone already knows and remembers her as a Golden Girl. Betty will be remembered as someone who never gave up, because she started her career after high school and is still in show business, and she’s ninety-one! She was an inspiration for many reasons. She helps people smile, and gives them encouragement. She kept doing everything she could to help animals. "...White told The Hollywood Report that ‘I have to keep acting so that I can afford to keep doing my charity work!’" (A+E Television Networks, LLC., biography.com).

Betty White is a hero, not only to me, but many others all over the world. All the things she went through shaped her into the hero that she is today. Betty was an inspiration to keep going and to keep believing. She does all she can to help animals; she stood for the wellbeing of them. She’ll always be known as America’s Golden Girl.