Publish date:
Updated on
Year
2010

Betty White becomes oldest “Saturday Night Live” host

On this day in 2010, 88-year-old actress Betty White, known for her former roles on “The Golden Girls” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” becomes the oldest person to host the long-running, late-night TV sketch comedy show “Saturday Night Live” (SNL). White’s hosting gig came about, in part, after hundreds of thousands of her fans signed onto a Facebook campaign rallying for it.

Born in Oak Park, Illinois, in 1922, Betty Marion White attended high school in Beverly Hills, California, before launching her career in radio and television, an industry still in its infancy at the time. She was a pioneering TV talk show host and producer in the 1950s, and also became a frequent celebrity panelist on TV game shows. In the 1970s, she played the acerbic, man-hungry “happy homemaker” Sue Ann Nivens on Mary Tyler Moore’s hit sitcom. Beginning in 1985, White co-starred as naïve, St. Olaf, Minnesota, native Rose Nylund on “The Golden Girls.” When the popular program ended in 1992, White went on to guest-star in a long list of TV shows, often using her sweet, wholesome appearance and sharp, sometimes raunchy, sense of humor to great comedic effect.

In late December 2009, a 29-year-old fan started a Facebook campaign dubbed “Betty White to Host SNL (please?)!” That March, after nearly half a million fans had joined the campaign, it was confirmed White would host the show on May 8, 2011. Lorne Michaels, SNL’s Canadian-born creator and executive producer, later said the show had tried to get White to host at least three times in previous decades but was unable to make it work with her schedule.

“Saturday Night Live,” which debuted in October 1975, is known for its topical parodies and impersonations, and for pushing boundaries with its sketches. The show has introduced a long list of memorable characters and catchphrases that have become part of pop-culture history. Over the years, it also has launched the careers of such performers as Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Mike Myers, Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, David Spade, Jimmy Fallon, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. SNL features a different guest host and musical act each week. Comedian George Carlin hosted the first-ever episode of SNL in 1975; that same year, actress Candice Bergen was the first woman to host the program. In 1982, 7-year-old Drew Barrymore became the youngest person ever to host SNL.

As SNL’s eldest host, White earned generally glowing reviews, and the show, which featured musical guest Jay-Z, drew its highest ratings in 18 months. The octogenarian actress later won the seventh Emmy Award of her career for her SNL appearance.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Soviets to boycott L.A. Olympics

Citing fears for the safety of its athletes in what it considered a hostile and anti-communist environment, the Soviet government announces a boycott of the 1984 Summer Olympic Games to be held in Los Angeles, California. Although the Soviets had cited security concerns, the ...read more

V-E Day is celebrated in America and Britain

On this day in 1945, both Great Britain and the United States celebrate Victory in Europe Day. Cities in both nations, as well as formerly occupied cities in Western Europe, put out flags and banners, rejoicing in the defeat of the Nazi war machine. The eighth of May spelled the ...read more

Victory in Europe

On this day in 1945, both Great Britain and the United States celebrate Victory in Europe Day. Cities in both nations, as well as formerly occupied cities in Western Europe, put out flags and banners, rejoicing in the defeat of the Nazi war machine. The eighth of May spelled the ...read more

New celebration of Armistice Day proposed

On May 8, 1919, Edward George Honey, a journalist from Melbourne, Australia, living in London at the time, writes a letter to the London Evening News proposing that the first anniversary of the armistice ending World War I—concluded on November 11, 1918—be commemorated by ...read more

Nixon defends invasion of Cambodia

President Nixon, at a news conference, defends the U.S. troop movement into Cambodia, saying the operation would provide six to eight months of time for training South Vietnamese forces and thus would shorten the war for Americans. Nixon reaffirmed his promise to withdraw 150,000 ...read more

Harry S. Truman is born

On this day in 1884, Harry S. Truman is born in Lamar, Missouri. The son of a farmer, Truman could not afford to go to college. He joined the army at the relatively advanced age of 33 in 1916 to fight in World War I. After the war, he opened a haberdashery in Kansas City. When ...read more

Flash floods in Nebraska kill 23

In Nebraska on this day in 1950, a flood caused by 14 inches of rain kills 23 people. Most of the victims drowned after being trapped in their vehicles by flash flooding. In southeastern Nebraska, cornfields dominate the landscape. It is the rainiest region of the state, ...read more

Soviets announce boycott of 1984 Olympics

Claiming that its athletes will not be safe from protests and possible physical attacks, the Soviet Union announces that it will not compete in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Despite the Soviet statement, it was obvious that the boycott was a response to the decision of the ...read more