America's Golden Girl rang in her 90th birthday with a splashy NBC special Monday night. Amy Poehler, Mary Tyler Moore, Hugh Jackman, and Tina Fey turned out to toast — and roast — White, recalling favorite memories from the star's seven decades in show business, praising her talent, and, more often than not, cracking wise about her old age. (Watch a clip below.) Here, four highlights from the big birthday bash:
1. President Obama, the stand-up comic
In a taped message to White, President Barack Obama delivered a cheeky birthday greeting: "I can't believe you're 90 years old. Will you please produce a copy of your long-form birth certificate?" Look, says Margaret Eby at Flavorwire. The "'birth certificate' gag is a little tired," but Obama's cameo "was charming, as was the closing shot of him putting a picture of White next to framed ones of Michelle and the kids."
2. The many, many old lady jokes
An entire red carpet's worth of celebrities dropped by to deliver glowing speeches in honor of White, says Sarah Anne Hughes at The Washington Post. But more often than not, they were there "for a night of jokes about age." Amy Poehler kicked things off by calling White a pioneer: "I call her a pioneer because 90 years ago she literally [traveled] to California on stage coach." Carol Burnett chimed in, "Like many of you, I first heard about Betty White from the wonderful stories told to me by my grandmother."
3. "Thank You for Being a Friend"
The special ended with a star-studded singalong, with those in attendance serenading White with a rendition of the Golden Girls theme song, "Thank You for Being a Friend." After a standing ovation, a clearly moved White "ended the night on a high note," says Hollywood Life. She said, "To be able to spend a lifetime in the business you love with the people you love — and get away with it — is marvelous!"
4. A preview of White's next gig
The special concluded with a preview of a new prank show produced by White, called Betty White's Off Their Rockers, which features senior citizens playing hidden camera tricks on youngsters. The "feel-good" series puts a fresh spin on the tired prank show genre, says The Huffington Post, because none of the victims in the clip actually got mad at the senior pranksters. Instead, the common response was "amusement, delight, or a shaking of the head with a smile." Actually, says Verne Gay at Newsday, this show looks "worse than awful, painful, and sad." It was embarrassing, and "White's spectacular career shouldn't be reduced to this."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- Russia is stealthily threatening America with nuclear war
- Why so many Christians won't back down on gay marriage
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- California's epic drought
- How to be the star of a cocktail party where you don't know anyone
Subscribe to the Week