Fifty years ago today, Gunsmoke star Amanda Blake (aka Miss Kitty) made a guest appearance on Betty White‘s The Pet Set. The Pet Set ran for two seasons from 1971 to 1972. The show featured celebrities dropping by with their personal pets while avid animal lover White fawned over them. White would also weave in more serious topics about animal welfare during The Pet Set, like pet care and wildlife conservation.
Amanda Blake visited ‘The Pet Set’ after a trip to Africa
Amanda Blake joined Betty White after a trip to multiple African countries. Blake noted spending time in Kenya, the Congo and Uganda. Despite her globe trotting, Blake only brought a couple of local poodles (“family friends” named Randy and Molly) to show for it. Amanda Blake said that her actual pet dogs were too scared to fly, so Randy and Molly had to fill in!
However, the Gunsmoke actor did sport an impressive Maasai necklace that Betty White notes has seven rows. Amanda Blake explained that she was impressed with the Maasai culture and loved spending time with them. Blake then goes on to express how much she wanted to take home a bush baby (the small, delicate and cute Galagos). After a brief reminder from Betty White that she strongly discourages exotic pets, she herself brings out one of the shy nocturnal creatures on a gloved hand.
From there a virtual cavalcade of African animals join Betty White and guest Amanda Blake. First, frequent The Pet Set guest Ralph Helfer and a cheetah named Khan join White and Blake. Both White and Blake are fearless with the tame beast, treating it like a domestic cat. Khan even briefly falls asleep while Betty White pets its head on her lap. Despite the effortless report White has with Khan the cheetah, she once again discourages viewers from owning exotic pets.
Amanda Blake had twenty-four pets, Betty White likely had more!
Amanda Blake then explains to Betty White that she owns twenty-four animals on her large ranch-like estate. At one point, Betty White herself reportedly owned 26 pet dogs alone. The pair agree that they share a strong love of animals before introducing domestic pets that trace back to Africa. Blake and White meet several breeds of African domestic dogs, to the more exotic Saluki to the commonplace greyhound. Betty White seemed most impressed with a Rhodesian Ridgeback, a South African hunting dog nicknamed “the lion of Africa.”
Finally, White and Blake are introduced to a pair of Abyssinian domestic cats. The animal trainer explains to Betty White and Amanda Blake that Abyssinians are known to be the oldest domestic cats, dating back to the ancient Egyptians.