Betty White’s Childhood Dream Job Had Nothing to Do With Acting

Betty White is beloved the world over; there is no denying that. As the famed actor nears her 100th birthday, fans are calling for security to ensure she is safe as she approaches the massive milestone. White’s fame is forever linked to her acting career, but long before becoming Sue Ann Nivens or Rose Nylund, White had a completely different dream. Her childhood dream job, had she been able to achieve it, would have taken her far from the lights of Hollywood. 

When did Betty White start acting? 

Betty White’s acting career started way back in 1939. Born in 1922, White discovered her love of performance as a teen. In the 1950s, she starred in Life with Elizabeth. The sitcom ran for two seasons and consisted of 65 episodes. She took on various roles in movies, television shows, and variety shows after Life With Elizabeth.

Betty White poses for a photo while on a set in 1956
Betty White | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Later, White landed her breakout role as Sue Ann Nivens in the 1970s classic, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. In the cult classic, White played a man crazy cooking show host. The overly competitive and hyper-sexual Sue Ann was strikingly similar to the part of Blanche Devereaux on The Golden Girls. White was initially up for the role of Blanche but later was cast as the incredibly naive Rose Nylund to avoid viewer confusion and typecasting

Since The Golden Girls ended in 1992, White has taken on various roles in movies and television shows. Her Hot in Cleveland character, Elka Ostrosky, is particularly beloved. Throughout her career, White has amassed dozens of award nominations and several big wins. 

Betty White wanted to be a forest ranger before becoming an actor 

No one can deny that White has had a successful acting career. According to IMDb, she has amassed over 120 acting credits. Still, it wasn’t the job she dreamed of as a little girl. Instead, White wanted to be a forest ranger. 

Betty White in red and glasses, shrugging
Betty White | Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI

 White dreamt of becoming a forest ranger for the majority of her childhood. The dream went unfulfilled because women were not allowed in the forest service when White was a young adult. According to the Forest Service, the first female forester was not hired until 1957, long after White had become an actor. In 1979 the first female district ranger was appointed. Today, 38% of the agency’s employees are female.

She achieved the dream with an honorary title in 2010

While White had to abandon her dreams of becoming a forest ranger back in the 1930s due to her gender, The United States Department of Agriculture made things right in 2010. The Forest Service honored White at a ceremony and named her an honorary forest ranger for her contribution to wilderness conservation. White received a forest ranger hat and a badge, along with a plaque. According to the Forest Service, she even joked that she hoped to wear the hat to a formal event she had to attend later that evening. 

Betty White stands with members of the Forest Service duringa 2010 ceremony to name her an honorary forest ranger
Betty White becomes an honorary forest ranger | Leigh Vogel/FilmMagic

White noted that her parents would have been thrilled to see her receive such an honor. Her father, Horace Logan White, an executive, died in 1963. Her mother, Christine Tess, died in 1985. White often credits her father with helping to foster her love of the wilderness. In multiple interviews, White revealed that she became interested in nature during family trips through the Sierra Nevada mountain range.