Betty White and Joan Rivers Hilarious 1983 Tonight Show Clip Resurfaces After White’s Death

by Allison Hambrick

Late television icon Betty White once joined legendary comedian Joan Rivers on The Tonight Show, and as expected, it got chaotic. White and Rivers were famously friends for many years, so much so that Rivers guest starred as White’s sister on Hot in Cleveland in 2012.

The clip of White and Rivers went viral following White’s tragic passing. The comedic timing of the duo is hard to match. For example, their bickering over who was the superior covergirl is enough to make anyone laugh. At the time of the interview, Rivers had graced the cover of People.

“Just a little jealous are you of the old cover?” Rivers asked. 

“You would think you were the only cover girl in town,” said White. “Did you know that I’m a cover girl?”

“I’m surprised, but probably yes,” Rivers replied. White then brandished a magazine featuring her on the cover–with a dog. 

“And if you dare say, ‘Who’s that other bitch on the cover?’ I will never speak to you again for as long as I live,” White quipped. “I am the one in the pink jacket.” Rivers then joked about White’s cover story wasn’t from “a major publication.” In response, White said: “not a major publication? If you have dogs I tell you that’s a very major publication.”

“For your career, though, that’s a good start,” Rivers replied. White, not one to back down, teased Rivers about her People cover. Rivers, ever the legendary comedian, then jokingly revealed: “it’s funny because people wanted me topless but I said no.” 

Flexing her comedic timing, White then responded: “Weren’t you? It’s so hard to tell.” 

Betty White Fires Back at Joan Rivers

Beyond their cover stories, Rivers and White traded barbs about dating, animals, and just about anything that came to mind. While Johnny Carson was The Tonight Show’s usual host, it’s hard to imagine him being able to interview Betty White so humorously.

“I asked you to come on tonight and look glamorous and look what you showed up in,” Rivers told White.

“I like to think understated is a lot classier than all this other stuff hanging out all over, well it’s just ridiculous,” White responded. “The little tassels on everything. Can you get them all going in opposite directions?”

Rivers then teased White, adding that she bets White would “be funny on a date if [she] ever had one.” A subtle yet poignant insult that White, of course, had to double down on.

“Listen, I don’t find the G-spot hard to find at all, it’s a cinch,” replied White. “Any guy that touches me I say, ‘Oh gee.'”

The back and forth lasted about ten minutes, with neither comedian missing a beat. With a friendship like theirs, it’s fun to imagine the kind of laughs the two shared in private, much less on national television.