"I like to think of him being named after the Indian chief, not the car," she quips.
When animals are mentioned, Betty lights up: "Animals are my real life. I have to stay in show business to pay for my animals." She's been involved with the Morris Animal Foundation and the Los Angeles Zoo for decades, as well as other animal-supporting groups.
As part of the ramp-up to her book's release, the publishers sent her 2,500 copies to sign. "I came home and my entire living room was full of books," she recalls. She eschewed any human help. "Pontiac and I just sat here and I just kept at it, pile after pile, until I got it done."
If You Ask Me "is not a memoir," she says. "My second book, Betty White in Person, had various subjects and I wrote kind of like an essay on each one. They wanted the same format 25 years later, to see how my opinions have changed about working, sex, grief, happiness, sadness and so on. So I was investigating myself."
One thing she found was that "I'm a little less tolerant in some ways. My tolerance level is short when people abuse privileges, show ingratitude or lack of appreciation." She recently expressed disgust toward Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen and other trouble-making stars who "party too much, don't learn their lines, are unprofessional and they grumble about everything" as she was quoted in London's Daily Mail.
Long renowned for her old school Midwestern work ethic, arriving prepared and with a good attitude wherever she goes, the Oak Park, Ill.-born star admits, "I get hacked about that. I don't usually show it, but I do get hacked."
It's been 30 years now since Betty lost the love of her life, her third husband, popular emcee Allen Ludden, after 18 years of marriage. She has been going solo since then. Her words about surmounting grief and hard times bear the weight of experience, simple as they are: "I really do believe the positive approach beats the negative," says Betty. "Everyone has something good they can hang on to. You have to focus on the good stuff, and celebrate the good times."