The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : Betty White, An Emmy Nominee for Her Role as Widowed Caretaker Elka Ostrovsky, Talks About Cleveland and Her Love for Animals

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Betty White, An Emmy Nominee for Her Role as Widowed Caretaker Elka Ostrovsky, Talks About Cleveland and Her Love for Animals

Hot in Cleveland, TV Land's first original comedy, ends its six-season run Wednesday with a one-hour goodbye (10 p.m. ET/PT). Betty White, an Emmy nominee for her role as widowed caretaker Elka Ostrovsky, talks about Cleveland; her friendship with co-stars Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves and Wendie Malick; her celebrated career; and her love for animals, including a grizzly bear named Bam Bam.

Were you surprised that Hot in Cleveland lasted for 128 episodes?

They asked me to do the pilot. I said, '"ll do it but I can't commit if the show gets picked up." And then we all did the pilot and we all fell in love. I did the last show, too. And all the ones in between. It was a delightful experience.

Do you have a favorite Cleveland moment?

When R.J. (Robert) Wagner kissed me, I didn't find that too bad. I like that, because they don't often write in a kiss for me.

Was the final taping an emotional event?

Every time we'd make eye contact, you'd find somebody whose eyes were full. We were all so conscious that it was the last day and trying so hard not to talk about it. And when we hugged at the end of the show, we just didn't want to let go.

Will you get together with your co-stars now that the series is over?

We had dinner (last week), all four of us. We're such close friends. We've promised ourselves that we'd get together every three weeks.

Did the show help boost your career?

I don't know about it helping my career. It's just that the public can't get rid of me. But I love it that way.

Do you plan to keep working?

I would love to. That's one of the things I appreciate the most, that I'm still invited to work. Usually, you get to a given age -- and that's a couple of decades ago for me -- and (work) dries up, but, oh, I've been so lucky. I'm 93 and I'm so healthy and strong. Work is just a joy. I know it can't go on forever, but I'm making the most of whatever comes along.

You've also starred in such classics as The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Golden Girls. Do you have a favorite series?

I think I have to go back to Golden Girls, but they're all favorites. I really haven't had to do a show I didn't like.

Do you have any advice for young actors as they embark upon their careers?

Enjoy your work, but take it very seriously. Show up on time. Come in prepared. Learn your lines. Don't ever think you can wing it, because you really can't. It shows in your eyes. It gives you away if you haven't done your homework.
Are you still busy with animal advocacy work?

I have to stay in show business to pay for my animal business. I'm always with them. I'm very active with the Morris Animal Foundation. We fund studies in the health and welfare (of animals).

Now that you're done with Cleveland, do you have plans to do any fun things in your spare time?

As a matter of fact, I'm going to see a very dear friend of mind, Bam Bam, who is a full-grown, male grizzly bear. He's a professional bear, a Hollywood actor. He takes marshmallows out of my mouth. I hold them between my lips and he just reaches up with his lips and takes the marshmallows so daintily. I'll bring a whole box of marshmallows.

Any details about the Cleveland finale?

No. But you'll see some very sad girls trying to act happy.

Betty White has had a long and successful career from her start as a TV ingenue to her reign as America's favorite senior citizen. She posed for USA TODAY at the Museum of Radio and TV in Los Angeles in 2011 while promoting her book, 'If You Ask Me.' (Photo: Bob Riha, Jr., USA TODAY)


In January 2013, Betty White celebrated her 93rd birthday. The 'Hot in Cleveland' star marked the occasion in Studio City, Calif., with co-stars Valerie Bertinelli, from left, Wendie Malick and Jane Leeves.


Betty White smooched with Bradley Cooper during a skit on the 'Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special.' The sketch included Laraine Newman, from left, Bill Hader, Taran Killam, Kristen Wiig, Keenan Thompson, Taylor Swift, Fred Armisen, Kerry Washington, Betty White and Bradley Cooper. (Photo: Dana Edelson, NBC)


Ellen DeGeneres presents the "Favorite TV Icon" award to Betty White at The 41st Annual People's Choice Awards in January 2015 in Los Angeles. (Photo: Kevin Winter, Getty Images)


Betty White has lent her name and efforts to many animal advocacy organizations. She attends the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association's (GLAZA) 44th Annual Beastly Ball at Los Angeles Zoo in June 2014. (Photo: Angela Weiss, Getty Images)et of the TV Land
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Betty White at the celebration of her 93rd birthday on the set of "Hot in Cleveland" at CBS Studios on Jan. 16, 2015, in Studio City, Calif. (Photo: Mark Davis, Getty Images for TV Land)


Betty White, right, cuddles with the dog named George Clooney during a scene with Jane Leeves on "Hot in Cleveland." (Photo: TV Land)


Former President Bill Clinton greets Betty White at the 24th Annual GLAAD Media Awards on April 20, 2013 in Los Angeles. (Photo: Jason Merritt, Getty Images)


In 2012, Betty White gave voice to "Grammy Norma" in the animated motion picture 'Dr. Seuss' The Lorax.' (Photo: Universal Pictures)


Betty White is sitting pretty at a press conference prior to the taping of 'Betty White's 90th Birthday: A Tribute To America's Golden Girl' on Jan. 8, 2012 in Los Angeles.  (Photo: Vince Bucci, AP)


In 2011, USA TODAY caught up with Betty White at the Central Park Zoo (holding a male Mandarin duck) for a story about her new book, 'Betty White and Friends: My Life at the Zoo,' which is about her "animal friends" at the Los Angeles Zoo.  (Photo: Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY)


Betty White - again and again and again. White poses with fans holding Betty White masks on the red carpet for the premiere of the film 'You Again' in Los Angeles on Sept. 22, 2010. (Photo: Chris Pizzello, AP)


Actresses Sandra Bullock, left, and Betty White dance on stage at the Teen Choice Awards on Aug. 8, 2010, in Universal City, Calif.  (Photo: Matt Sayles, AP)


At the age of 88, White became the oldest person to host 'Saturday Night Live.' Seen here in a skit with Will Forte,from left, Kristen Wiig, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph. (Photo: Dana Edelson, NBC)



Betty White accepts the Life Achievement Award at the 16th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Jan. 23, 2010, in Los Angeles.  (Photo: Mark J. Terrill, AP)


Cloris Leachman and Betty White pose for a photo shoot at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The 'Mary Tyler Moore Showalums were flying high in two hotly anticipated summer films: Betty White is a naughty 90-year-old "gammy" in the comedy 'The Proposal' and Cloris Leachman in the Quentin Tarntino WWII film 'Inglourious Basterds.' (Photo: Dan MacMedan, USA TODAY)


In 1986 Betty White won her fourth Emmy Award in Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for Rose Nylund in The Golden Girls. She starred in the show from 1985 to 1992 along with from left, Estelle Getty, Bea Arthur (sitting) and Rue McClanahan. (Photo: GARY NULL, NBC)


In its fourth season, The 'Mary Tyler Moore Show' added White for the role of 'the happy homemaker.' Betty White joined alums from 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show[', Ed Asner, from left, Ted Knight, Cloris Leachman and Gavin MacLoed at the 1986 Television Academy Hall of Fame Awards. (Photo: Ron Galella, WireImage)


In this May 18, 1976 photo, cast members of the 'Mary Tyler Moore Show' pose with their Emmys backstage, at the 28th annual Emmy Awards in Los Angeles. Ed Asner, from left, joins Betty White, supporting actress; Moore for best actress in a comedy show and Ted Knight for supporting actor. (Photo: Reed Saxon, AP)


In this April 29, 1965 photo, Betty White and her husband, Allen Ludden, continue a two year gin rummy battle in which she's ahead by a cumulative 6,000 points in Westchester, N.Y. White and the 'Password' game show host got married in 1963. (Photo: Bob Wands, AP)


In this June 9, 2010 photo, actress Betty White poses for a portrait on the set of the television show 'Hot in Cleveland' in Studio City section of Los Angeles. At 89, White has become a role model for how to grow old joyously. (Photo: Matt Sayles, AP)
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