Betty White on The Lorax, the Art of Pranking, and the Funniest Person She’s Ever Worked With

"I can't be coy"

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Actress Betty White arrives at the premiere of Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment's 3D-CG "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax" at Citywalk on February 19, 2012 in Universal City, California.

“At my age,” says the 90-year-old ­actress, “things begin to blend.” Then again, White’s schedule would make anyone’s head spin: the former Golden Girl is currently playing a sassy landlord (on TV Land’s Hot in Cleveland), a lovable host (of NBC’s seniors-prank-­youngsters show Off Their Rockers) and a wacky animated grandma (in The Lorax, out Aug. 7 on DVD). Here, she kicks it (really) old-school with TIME.

TIME: Your work life is jam-packed with movies, TV shows and now an obligation to entertain more than 450,000 followers on Twitter. What do you do to relax?

White: I spend as much time at home as I possibly can—which seems to be getting less and less—with my golden ­retriever Pontiac.

His name’s Pontiac?

I didn’t name him. He’s a career trained guide dog. But I like to think of him as the Indian chief, not the car.

Of course.

Actually, when the Pontiac car company went out of business, I sat him down and said, “Oh, Ponty, it wasn’t anything you did, I promise.” And he was looking at me like, “Oh, Mommy is telling me something so important.”

He was probably ­hoping for a treat.

You know he was!

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Ever travel?

I have a beautiful home that my [late] beloved husband, Allen Ludden, built in Carmel. And you shouldn’t have a beautiful home in Carmel if you can’t get to it! So I finally got up there for three days, and it was just heaven, it was absolute heaven.

So what drew you to The Lorax?

Well, I think it’s a beautiful story, and it’s so environmentally oriented. I fell in love with it. And I think the cartoon itself is just beautiful.

Had you read the book beforehand?

I had not, I’m ashamed to say. So I was introduced to it through this process. Then when I went and saw the movie all put together, I was just thrilled.

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You’ve been in the business for seven decades now.

[laughs] Yep.

What’s the weirdest question you’ve ever been asked during an interview?

A lot of times, people want to know how old somebody else is. We’re such an age conscious population that it’s always, “How old is so and so.” And I always say, “I haven’t a clue.”

What about the funniest person you’ve ever worked with?

Oh, Carl Reiner is wonderful. And that marvelous man from The Carol Burnett Show…I know his name like I know my own, and I can’t come up with it right now! You know the one I mean, don’t you? The one that has the funny walk, and he’s deadpan, and—

Yes! I’m blanking on his name, too.

Isn’t that ridiculous? I know him so well. I’ll have to go away and come back. It begins with a T….Tim…Tim Conway! Tim Conway, thank gosh. He can put me absolutely out.

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By the way, congrats on your birthday party [NBC’s Betty White’s 90th Birthday special] being nominated for an Emmy. That’s got to be a Hollywood first.

Well, isn’t that the silliest? I was thrilled. I can’t be coy.

Off Their Rockers got one too. Any hints about what’s coming up?

I’m going to a meeting today where we’ll go over the material and make sure everything is copacetic. Our basic rule is, nothing mean-spirited.

Have you ever rejected a prank?

Not so far. Ask me tonight!

2 comments
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Talendria
Talendria

I love it that at 90 years old she still has all her marbles and finds the energy to take on demanding projects.  She's an inspiration to us all.