Betty White may be small, but she is mighty, standing up for her beliefs regardless of boycotts or criticism.
We always knew we loved Betty. I mean, come on. She is America’s Grandmother.
Back in August of 2018, PBS aired a tribute to the now 99-year-old legend, called “Betty White: First Lady of Television,” which celebrates White accomplishments over eight decades.
One of her most shining moments came at a time that inclusivity was harder to come by.
Betty White is a Pioneer
In 1954, the actress hosted her own nationally aired television show, The Betty White Show.
Knowing that men dominated the industry, Betty White wanted to give women a voice as well. She hired a female director to run her show and stood out as a prominent voice before the feminist movement even gained traction.
Women weren’t the only underrepresented group that Betty White stood up for. While many faces appeared on The Betty White Show, one talented singer and dancer became a staple.
Arthur Duncan, a young African-American man, was frequently featured on White’s daytime series. According to a USA Today article, it notes that PBS credits Duncan as the “first black series regular on a talk/variety show.”
However, not everyone was okay with Duncan’s presence. As White’s show grew nationally, so did the criticism. Many viewers and stations throughout the South even threatened to boycott The Betty White Show if Duncan was not removed.
Betty White held firm. She notes in the tribute documentary that she had choice words to share with those close-minded people.
“I said, ‘I’m sorry. Live with it.'”
In July of 2018, Arthur Duncan appeared on a panel at the Television Critics Association summer press tour. He credits Betty White with being the person who gave him a chance in show business. However, he also reveals that he was unaware of the criticism White faced or the potential boycott until she wrote about it years after the fact.
“She just stood up for her beliefs,” stated Duncan. “That solved everything at the time.”
We would like to reiterate, how can you not love Betty freakin White! The woman is a pioneer and a social justice warrior!
Today, White still stands up for causes she believes in, but now she focuses on her four-legged friends. She works with the Los Angeles Zoo, The Morris Animal Foundation, African Wildlife Foundation, as well as Actors & Others for Animals. She dedicated a good portion of her life to animal rights and welfare, which began in the early 1970s with the premiere of her series The Pet Set.