Does anybody not like actress Betty White? She's been around forever, and now, as she approaches her 90th year, she's given a whole new meaning to the phrase "White hot."
Last night, while I was switching back and forth between stations to watch different episodes of "The Golden Girls" (to quote Dorothy Zbornak, "Don't judge me!"), almost every commercial break included the trailer for Betty's latest movie, "You Again," where she plays — what else? — a feisty old broad who is so much cooler than everyone around her. Twice, I saw a commercial for Snickers where she winds up face down in the mud during a touch football game, and during the Lifetime episodes, previews for the second season of her latest sitcom, "Hot in Cleveland," were prominent.
She's been an entertainer for 60 years, plying her trade on stage and screens both big and little. She's America's reigning sweetheart, a permanently trending topic on Twitter and a Facebook phenom (which led to her becoming the oldest person ever to host "Saturday Night Live"). She's an author, a seven-time Emmy Award winner, a former game-show regular and host, outspoken animal activist, talk-show darling, sitcom queen, and the go-to supporting actress for every movie made in the last few years.
And now I'm proposing that the inimitable Ms. White also is a teacher with valuable lessons for fundraisers and other folks involved in branding and communications for nonprofits.
Whether she's canoodling in the kitchen as the oversexed Sue Ann Nivens on "Mary Tyler Moore," telling the story of Uncle Hansengruten and the one-eyed milk cow on "The Golden Girls," getting to second base with Sandra Bullock in "The Proposal," or calling Sarah Palin a … well, you know … on Craig Ferguson's talk show, she is always, unfailingly Betty White — sassy, charming, gracious, flirtatious, quick as a whip, sharp as a tack and delightfully bawdy. In short, Betty has perfected the delicate art of remaining true to her brand while at the same time expanding it into every possible nook and cranny. As a result, her popularity spans generations and cuts across every segment of American life. And her career is as hot as ever — if not hotter.