Betty White has her own special place in sitcom history. That is, she was one of the stars on the beloved NBC show “Golden Girls” from 1985 to 1992. She also had an interesting connection to the popular sitcom, “The Brady Bunch.”
White has set a lot of milestones for the industry. Especially since she has been an instrumental part of it for over 80 years. She was a nominee for the first-ever Best Actress Emmy award. Since then, she has also taken a role in both television and film projects.
She also has an interesting connection to “The Brady Bunch” through her bandleader.
Betty White and ‘The Brady Bunch’
Betty White had her own talk show in 1954 that she personally hosted and produced. It was called, unsurprisingly, “The Betty White Show.” At the time, she only walked away with $750 per week for the show, according to MeTV. For reference, Betty White earns about $3 million per year just from “Golden Girls” reruns.
She hired a female director for the role and also a bandleader, Frank De Vol. Interestingly enough, De Vol was known for his work on composing other famous TV theme songs. His work included “Family Affair,” “Gidget,” “The Brady Bunch,” and “My Three Sons.”
Besides being a composer, De Vol was also an actor in “I’m Dickens,” “He’s Fenster,” “I Dream of Jeannie,” “Bonanza,” and “Petticoat Junction.” During his life, De Vol was nominated for four Academy Awards for his work as a composer.
In 1966, he arranged the soundtrack for the movie “The Happening.” He co-produced the theme and it would go on to become a No.1 American pop sensation.
Fans of shows like “The Brady Bunch” and “Family Affairs” can recognize the staple sound of De Vol’s catchy and upbeat stylistic choices.
‘The Betty White Show’: A Historic Hiring
“The Betty White Show” only lasted about a year before NBC canceled it. The show had kept changing time slots and was therefore beginning to lose viewers in the process.
There was also controversy attached to the show.
Betty White hired a famous African-American performer, Arthur Duncan, who was a regular cast member on the talk show. At the time, Southern states threatened to boycott the show unless he was removed. Duncan did not know about the controversy at the time, but White was always there to stand up for him and his presence on the show.
White allegedly said in response, “I’m sorry. Live with it.” She then gave him even more airtime. He would go on to become the first African-American to have a regular spot on a variety program, “The Lawrence Welk Show.”
He would later appear in a PBS special that honored Betty White called “Betty White: First Lady of Television.”
In an interview with Sioux City Journal, Duncan talked about her influence on his life. “She is probably one of the nicest, grandest and greatest of all people I’ve had the chance to meet throughout my life. Whenever she walked into a room, it lit up. She was very thoughtful and very helpful. She launched me into show business.”
The two later reunited for the show “Little Big Shots: Forever Young.”