- (Photo: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni)
Betty White turns 91 today, and the "Golden Girl" has a simple request for well-wishers: donate to the Morris Animal Foundation in her name. White has been a life-long animal lover who has said she "already has more than I could hope for."
White currently stars on TV Land's "Hot in Cleveland" with actresses Valerie Bertinelli, Wendy Malick, and Jane Leeves. She plays the spunky older woman who has no shame and says exactly what she wants. It's a change from the role that White is possibly best known for: sweet-as-pie Rose Nylund from the "Golden Girls."
Nylund was a long-running character for White, who was originally chosen to play Blanche Deveraux, later played by the late Rue McClanahan. "Golden Girls" ran for a record 10 seasons and covered such topics as the HIV/AIDS epidemic, ageism, racism, and the sexuality of older women. White took home an Emmy for her performance of down-home Nylund and continued with the character on three other series.
White is the only surviving member of the "Golden Girls," which may come as a surprise given that her character was supposed to be aged the same as the others on the show. Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty may have played characters as the same age as White's, but they were actually all older than her. McClanahan was the most recent do pass away, leaving White by herself.
She has continued working, though, in both movies and TV. White starred with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds in "The Proposal" and has not one, but two series on TV. "Hot in Cleveland" is a seemingly younger version of "Golden Girls" and airs on TV Land, while "Betty White's Off Their Rockers" airs on NBC. White, a notorious prankster, hosts the show that features senior citizens playing pranks on unsuspecting passersby.
White has already received a rather unique present for her birthday. The Lifeline Program, for which White is a spokeswoman, adopted a red-tailed boa constrictor named Jacob in White's name.
"Jacob the boa constrictor is good as gold and cuddles in my arms and around my neck," White said in a statement. He will remain at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens but will surely be visited by his new "mother."
Meanwhile, White has asked fans not to send her anything personal for her birthday but to make a donation to the Morris Animal Foundation. She hopes to raise $10,000 for the nonprofit organization.
"Animals are near and dear to my heart, and I've devoted my life to trying to improve their lives. Since a girl like me already has more than I could hope for, I'm asking fellow animal lovers for a special birthday gift this year. It would make a golden girl like me very happy!" White wrote in a piece for the Huffington Post.