Last night, NBC honored Golden Girl Betty White with a 90-minute birthday-palooza before the debut of her Punk’d-but-with-old-people candid camera show, Betty White’s Off Their Rockers (just what the world has been waiting for!). The ever-charming White blew kisses to the celebrity presenters, like Amy Poehler and Mary Tyler Moore, who toasted and roasted her with various degrees of success (“I call her a pioneer,” said Poehler, “because 90 years ago she literally arrived to California on stage coach.”) While most cracked wise about her age, some questioned her stance on nude photography, and others just went straight for the make-out session. We’ve filtered through the whole birthday party, from Carl Reiner’s heartfelt birthday note to Jennifer Love Hewitt’s dewy-eyed fan letter, and here are the highlights of the night.
Seth Meyers provided a Weekend Update: Betty White edition for the run-down on her storied career. “TV has changed a lot since Betty White began,” he joked. “Now it exists.”
Apparently not one to beat around the bushes, Chuck star Zachary Levi took the opportunity to propose to Betty, promising to be “the mother of her children.” Not only did Betty accept, she planted one on the somewhat startled-looking Levi.
Though the whole “birth certificate” gag is a little tired, the clip of President Obama asking to see Betty White’s was charming, as was the closing shot of him putting a picture of White next to framed ones of Michelle and the kids. Match made in heaven.
William Shatner’s faux-outrage at Betty White selling out was a great intro to a host of her more memorable advertisement appearances. Like the one for Geritol tonic, after which Shatner sneered “See? But now she just lives on vodka and applause.” Or her 2010 Superbowl Snickers spot:
Though Tracy Morgan’s “Dear Betty” letter mostly fell flat, him signing off “your biological son, Tracy” was pretty hilarious.
Joel McHale played ringleader in an impromptu game of Password, starring White’s old cast mates from The Mary Tyler Moore Show. It was sweet, if not an entirely successful comedic ploy, and McHale’s straight-faced assertion that he’d look her up on IMDB nicely undercut the effusive praise from her cohorts.
Of all the “Dear Betty” letters, Morgan Freeman’s was perhaps the most successful. “Morgan Freeman doesn’t write letters,” he explained in a voiceover, “he does voiceovers of letters in his head.”
Tina Fey’s contribution to the special was the series of inspirational quotes White gave her, which turned out a bit like that game where you add “in bed” to your fortune cookie prediction. “Never let anyone tell you you’re not good enough….to pose nude.” BUt the ringer was certainly the last one: “Keep reaching for the stars…because it really makes those knockers stand at attention.”