Betty White Turned Down This Job That Went to Barbara Walters

by Jacklyn Krol
Donna Svennevik, Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Did you know that Betty White turned down a role that then went to Barbara Walters?

Betty White as a Television Anchor?

White revealed in an interview with the Archive of American Television that she was approached to host The Today Show.

“My decisions were not all-wise,” she joked. “But they were done with conviction. Because… the life you live is more important than the job you do.”

Her reason for turning down the gig? Because the West Coast is her home and happy place. White briefly lived in New York with her husband for six years. She said that she was always on that west-bound plane whenever she got the chance. When the executives asked her if she would join the show, she said no because of her love for California.

“That was one of those getting up at 4 o’clock in the morning, going to the studio. It was a way of life and terribly interesting and a great idea but I said, ‘No, I don’t think so.'” The show then offered her an apartment at the St. Regis Hotel and fly home on weekends. She admitted that at first, it didn’t sound like a bad idea. “Then I began figuring out time because that was before jets so it was an 8-hour flight [one way],” she continued, realizing that it wouldn’t be practical.

Meanwhile, her agent thought that she was “out of her mind” and “absolutely nuts.” “The poor network, NBC, was stuck with a gal named Barbara Walters,” Betty White smiled. “They somehow managed to muddle through.”

Walters co-hosted The Today Show from 1962 through 1976. She then transitioned into hosting ABC Evening News before going to The View.

Her Record-Breaking Hosting Duty

Betty White still hosted events and specials from time to time. However, she made history on Saturday Night Live on May 8, 2010. White became the oldest person to host the variety show, at 88-year-old. The musical guest was Jay-Z who she dubbed “the hottest thing since sliced bread.”

Prior to rehearsals, she had no idea what she would be doing. “All I know is I have veto power if it’s something I really don’t want to do,” she told PopSugar. “And they promised me I wouldn’t have to do any nudity.”

Surprisingly, she was nervous for the show and didn’t have experience in one particular area. “The fact that I understand you work from cue cards, and I never have been able to work from cue cards,” she explained. “I memorize everything or ad-lib it. And I know with the changing scripts, and it changes as you speak — I know that won’t be possible. And with cue cards, I hope I don’t have to wear my glasses. I hope the print is big enough.”