Why Betty White Won a Teen Choice Award at 88 Years Old

Right up until her death at age 99, Betty White was easily one of the hippest stars of her generation. The actor’s broad range of work in Hollywood — which included both television and movies, though she is far better known for the former — helped her appeal to fans of all ages. And against all odds, White even earned a Teen Choice Award in 2010. Here’s how the then-88-year-old actor managed that.

Betty White wears green and black while holding a bouquet of roses
Betty White | Kevin Winter

Betty White became famous in the 1950s

As most fans might expect, White’s first big break in Hollywood came on television. In those early years, she became a beloved guest of variety shows, game shows, and talk shows. And in 1952, she hosted The Betty White Show for two years. Soon thereafter, White made her sitcom debut on Life with Elizabeth, a path that led her to various shows, including The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Golden Girls, and Hot in Cleveland.

But starting mostly in the late 1990s, White also began appearing regularly on the big screen. Movies like Holy Man, Lake Placid, and Bringing Down the House positioned the actor for the unexpected delivery of sexual innuendo, explicit language, or crude and offensive remarks. And that often became a skill set White tapped into, including her irreverent scene-stealing performance in another big-screen hit.

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But she won a Teen Choice Award at age 88

2009’s The Proposal stars Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds as a boss and her assistant who pretend to be engaged. White plays Reynolds’ grandmother and has a key sequence in which she and Bullock dance to hip hop hit “Get Low” by Lil’ Jon & the East Side Boyz. And the scene went on to earn both White and Bullock the Choice Movie Dance award at the 2010 Teen Choice Awards.

The awards show aims to give younger fans the chance to vote for their favorites in entertainment. And while White’s win feels unexpected, The Proposal was a huge box office hit. Against a $40 million production budget, the romantic comedy earned $317 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo. It’s also a testament to White’s appeal that she was able to make such an impact on teens even many years after The Golden Girls ended.

Betty White was working until her death in 2021

Throughout her 90s, White never stopped working. Soon after The Proposal, she starred in another hit sitcom Hot in Cleveland, which ran from 2010 to 2015. She also hosted a 2010 episode of Saturday Night Live following an outpouring of support from fans. And she never stopped making appearances in both TV and movies.

In fact, White had the biggest hit movie of her career in 2019. She voiced a toy tiger named Bitey White in Disney and Pixar’s billion-dollar hit Toy Story 4. And the television icon reprised the role for her final TV role in an episode of the Disney+ series Forky Asks a Question that same year.

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