‘Golden Girls’ Star Betty White Has Never Had Acting Lessons

by Keeli Parkey

“Golden Girls” star Betty White is a television legend. And she is a comedy icon. Her decades of excellent work in front of the camera might make you assume that the now 99-year-old spent years studying acting and comedy.

Well, according to an early 2021 report by Insider, that assumption would be wrong.

See, thanks to sheer talent and hard work, Betty White has entertained television viewers for decades without formal training. Her beloved body of work includes her roles in not only “The Golden Girls,” but also on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Hot In Cleveland.” She has also excited television audiences as a host of “Saturday Night Live.”

During her tenure on “The Golden Girls,” Betty White kept fans laughing with her tour de force portrayal of the naive and sweet character, Rose Nylund. That role was a very different one from the character she brought to life years before in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” during the 1970s. That character, of course, was the vixen that was “The Happy Homemaker,” Sue Ann Nivens.

Throughout her career – be it on television or in films – Betty White has turned in solid performance after solid performance. She’s a reliable actress who will give a director or writer exactly what they need from a character. Just think about her most famous roles – Rose Nylund and Sue Ann Nivens – for example. Those characters are two very different people and White convincingly brought both of them to life.

So, the fact that she has never had an acting lesson makes what she is able to do in front of a camera even more impressive.

‘Golden Girls’ Star Betty White Once Said Taking Acting Lessons ‘Doesn’t Work for Me’

As to why she never took an acting lesson, “The Golden Girls” star had a pretty straightforward explanation. Turns out, she felt that acting lessons would prevent her from giving a real-life portrayal of her characters. And, being the kind and generous woman her fans know her to be, she also made sure that her comments did not offend other actors.

“I just want to bring as much natural as I can. I’m not saying that people who take acting lessons are false. They’re much better than I am, but it doesn’t work for me,” Betty White said.

As previously mentioned, her decades-long career has given White opportunities to play very different characters. And, like most of us probably would, she has a favorite character. Interestingly, her favorite is not Rose Nylund from “The Golden Girls.”

So, which character did White name as her favorite? It appears that she couldn’t narrow it down to just one. She referenced both Sue Ann Nivens from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and Elka Ostrovsky from “Hot In Cleveland.”