Why are we all so in love with Betty White (me included)?
But there may be no finer time in showbiz for this 88-year-old alum of both The Golden Girls and The Mary Tyler Moore Show than right now.
(UPDATE: News broke this morning that producers at Saturday Night Live finally bowed to all the internet pressure and scheduled White to host the show may 8. Sounds from this story like she even had to be talked into the gig -- which only makes us love her more.)
Hot off a rabid Internet campaign to get Her Magnificent White-ness installed as a host on Saturday Night Live, a buzzed about Super Bowl commercial for Snickers, a prominent role in a new TV Land series and a adoring endorsement from Twilight hunk Robert Pattinson who called her "sexy," White got the ultimate stamp of pop culture approval:
Sparked by a faked image of a TMZ article posted in an Internet chat room -- really!? Has the online media world sunk this low? -- word spread for a while Tuesday night that White might have passed on. Fortunately, it was quickly debunked -- the Los Angeles Times says she was at a performance of Dreamgirls in the city -- but it got me thinking about why we're so infatuated with her to begin with.
And who might be next.
Why we love her: That's easy -- she's funny, willing to poke fun at herself, got a miles-long resume including several classic sitcoms, still brings the funny regularly in her current work and still works a lot.
Besides having an army of fans across generations -- more than 480,000 folks have already signed up to the Facebook page asking SNL to hire her -- White is one of the last actresses working from a legendary time in television, back when Moore, her Golden Girls co-star Bea Arthur, Cloris Leachman and others created a classic form of TV entertainment.
Which leads to a natural question: Who's next?
Since the days of Tony Bennett and beyond, there are certain elder performers who capture the love of the new generation -- a few respected longtimers to provide a bit of balance to our runaway youth culture.
Abe Vigoda - The legendary hangdog from Barney Miller, Vigoda doesn't work nearly enough; though his co-starring role with White in that Super Bowl Snickers spot is a start.
Sophia Loren (left) -- Back in the spotlight thanks to a charming turn in Nine, Loren remains one of the world's great beauties, with a life as eventful and sprawling as any of her characters.
Ernest Borgnine -- I know, he's the pug-faced guy who usually showed up at the end on Johnny Carson's couch. But anybody who co-starred in the Posiedon Adventure gets cool point no one can take back.