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AARP Goes Hollywood With Betty White

TV's Golden Girl wants you to embrace your age

Betty White peers over her sunglasses while promoting AARP membership.

"I never thought about age much," Betty White says. "I learned that at my mother's knee. Age was not important. It was where your head was."

Betty White mischievously reveals that the brass at TV Land, home of her Hot in Cleveland hit sitcom, are "talking about extending it for five more years. Well, I'm 89. I'm going to be 90 in January." A pause. A beat. "When they talk about extending it five more years, I think that's hysterical."

Actually, considering what a hot property the Golden Girl is these days, TV Land's desire to lock her into a long contract is understandable. Not only does Betty have Hot in Cleveland returning with new episodes June 15, she has her new If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won't) book out and a new comedy reality show, NBC's Betty White's Off Their Rockers, on the way. And the amazing, multiple Emmy-winning TV Academy Hall of Famer is also relishing her latest role — celebrity member for AARP.

"I never thought about age much," Betty insists. "I learned that at my mother's knee. Age was not important. It was where your head was."

Betty's AARP campaign revolves around embracing age and ridding oneself of any worry about it — themes she's completely natural with and enjoys supporting. Her mother never lied about her age, Betty says, nor did she.

That, of course, makes her the rarest of rare birds in Hollywood, where it's considered necessary to career survival to avoid disclosing one's number of years on the planet. "It does become important on your résumé," she allows. "It's just that my age has been an open subject for so long, people see me and think, 'Oh, there comes that old broad again.'"

Looking back, she does recall other people worrying about her age for her, starting with television emcee Al Jarvis, whose six-day-a-week live variety show Betty joined in 1949. "He said, 'You know, now is a good time to start knocking off a couple years from your age. It will come in handy as you get older.' I was 26 at the time. He said, 'Tell everyone you're 22.'"

It turned out, however, that Betty wasn't very good at fudging. She found herself hesitating in an interview, saying, "I was born in, nineteen, ah, nineteen — well, I was really born in 1922, but they want me to knock four years off my life, so you do the math."

"Those guys were so nice," she continues, "they always knocked the four years off — TV Guide, TV Mirror, everybody did. Isn't that something?"

Next: "I've never really gone away." >>

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