Betty White was late to the Mama’s Family set because she stopped to rescue two dogs on her way
Vicki Lawrence fondly remembers what it was like working with the iconic animal-lover.
Betty White was a TV icon whose eight-decade career gave audiences some of the small screen’s most beloved characters. But show business wasn’t even White’s first goal.
Early in life, she wanted to be a forest ranger. Women were not allowed to join the rangers at the time so instead she became one of the most famous faces on the planet.
But she never lost her commitment to all living things. In fact, sometimes her animal rescue efforts interrupted her acting career.
Vicki Lawrence, who met White on The Carol Burnett Show then worked with her in sixteen episodes of Mama’s Family, recently recalled a fond memory from the set of the Eighties sitcom.
“One day she was late for rehearsal,” Lawrence told The Hollywood Reporter. “Nobody could reach her. But to be an hour late was unlike her. We were worried to death. She was always on time and prepared. When she finally walked in, she said she was sorry, but she was driving down Sunset Boulevard, and there were two golden retrievers in the middle of the road. And of course, she had to stop — and stop traffic — right in the middle of Sunset Boulevard and get the dogs into her car and get them home. She had to. That’s who she was.”
Lawrence also remembered a rare moment when White flubbed a line. White played Lawrence’s daughter, Ellen. The real-life age difference, White was 27 years older than Lawrence, was always one of the funniest parts about the show.
“My recollections of Betty are nothing but sweet and happy and fun and raunchy and bawdy.” Lawrence said. “But she was so professional in the middle of all that. I don’t remember Betty ever missing a line. It was so rare. She was so prepared. The only outtake I can remember ever was on Mama’s Family.”
In the show, Ellen was having an affair with Mayor Tutweiler. The funny name caused White so much trouble that eventually, “It just digressed into a laughing mess,” Lawrence recollected.
Lawrence also revealed she talked with Carol Burnett about White’s passing and that Burnett knew Betty’s last word. According to White’s assistant, she said her late husband’s name “Allen” right before she died. White was married to game show host Allen Ludden for nearly 20 years before his untimely death in 1981.
Lawrence noted that her iconic friend “would want us to laugh and remember and love and enjoy and believe that she’s in heaven with Allen.”