Betty White: The New "It" Girl

In USA Today's Ad Meter ratings, this Snickers Super Bowl ad featuring Betty White ranked No. 1. CBS

Last night veteran comedienne Betty White hosted "Saturday Night Live" . . . at an hour when many a lot younger than she is have long since gone to bed. How does she do it? Here's Richard Schlesinger of "48 Hours":


"Live from New York, it's 'Saturday Night!'"

And with those seven words, three generations agreed on one thing: One woman, 88-and-a-half years old, is the "It Girl" du jour.

Betty White, hosting "Saturday Night Live," a show invented by people young enough to be her children, and still enjoyed by people who could be her grandchildren.

Her improbable resurrection began with a fall, in an ad last Super Bowl Sunday.

When Betty White got up, she found herself the object of an unusually persistent Facebook campaign to convince "Saturday Night Live" that she should be a guest host.

Almost a half-million people signed on, and David Mathews was the first.

"Growing up, I was always really, really close with my grandparents," Mathews said. "And I have just always been around folks that were older. But she's funny! No matter how old you are, whether you're 15 or 50 or 110."

Mathews is 29, which means he was born four years after Betty White finished playing her first big role, Sue Ann Nivens, the strumpet of a certain age on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."

In a medium that skews young, she makes old jokes work.

For seven years on "Golden Girls," she played the ditsy Rose Nyland.

"She's a funny old lady," one young fan said.

"If I was alive in the '60s, I would totally have a big crush on her," said one male.

"She's been around since before World War II started, and she just gets funnier and funnier with every year that goes by," said Mathews. "How can one not admire that? It's funny, on the Facebook page, I would say over 50 percent of the fans are probably under 40 years old."

Facebook seems sort of a strange place for her to get all this support from.

"I didn't know what Facebook was; I have to say, it sounds like a huge waste of time," she said in her monologue. "People said, 'But Betty, Facebook is a great way for people to connect with old friends.' Well, at my age, if I want to connect to old friends I need a ouija board."

"People really, really like her, and they really wanted to see her on this show," said entertainment writer Greg Evans. "And they won!. I mean, they got it!".

Betty White really doesn't look like any of the recent hosts of "SNL," but thanks to Dave Mathews, she made a little history, and last night became the oldest host of the show ever.

But there was another star in that commercial that launched Betty White into the late night stratosphere.

Abe Vigoda. And at 89, he's a year older.

So how about it, "SNL?" Now that you've set the record with Betty White, why not break it with Abe Vigoda?

Just a thought, a little "Sunday Morning" quarterbacking, if you will.
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