Betty White: How Many Episodes of the ‘Mary Tyler Moore Show’ Did She Appear in?

by Keeli Parkey

During her decades-long career, Betty White has done a little bit of everything. She is a versatile comedic actress who at 99 years young is still beloved by fans of all ages.

One of her most iconic roles started during the early 1970s when she played the role of Sue Ann Nivens on the wildly popular sitcom, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

Sue Ann Nivens really enjoyed the company of the opposite sex and this made for many, many memorable moments. Nivens was known as “The Happy Homemaker” thanks to her character’s show in the series.

So, when did Betty White begin her tenure on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”? According to, the legendary television actress was only supposed to appear in one episode of the sitcom. Interestingly, the script described the Sue Ann Nivens character as “an icky sweet Betty White type.”

This description was used even though the role was not penned just for Betty White. However, as television history played out, White was cast in the role. She first played Sue Ann Nivens during the show’s fourth season in 1973. She stayed on the show until 1977.

Betty White Was a Hit as Sue Ann Nivens on ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’

Turns out that Betty White was perfect as the character and really made an impression on showrunners and the audiences.

What made Betty White’s success on the sitcom more interesting is that the character of Sue Ann was so very different from any other role she had previously played. White had been seen as someone who only played wholesome characters and not the man-seeking woman Sue Ann Nivens was.

White’s performance as Sue Ann Nivens was such a hit that the powers that be behind “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” decided to bring her back for more episodes.

Betty White as Sue Ann Nivens was never a character that appeared on every episode of the famous sitcom. According to, White’s highest number of appearances on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” in one season was 12. However, when she did show up, fans didn’t soon forget her appearance or that episode.

In total Betty White portrayed Sue Ann Nivens in 45 episodes of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” according to “The Mary Tyler Moore Show was – it was my first big hit,” White reportedly once said.

In addition to her appearances on sitcoms such as “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Mama’s Family,” “The Golden Girls,” and “Hot in Cleveland,” Betty White is also famous for her appearances on several game shows. During her career Betty White worked on many such shows. They include “The $10,000 Pyramid,” “The Hollywood Squares,” “Password,” and “Match Game.”