PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 06: Actress Betty White speaks onstage during the Informal Session: Betty White's Off Their Rockers" panel during the NBCUniversal portion of the 2012 Winter TCA Tour at The Langham Huntington Hotel and Spa on January 6, 2012 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Not only is Betty White turning 90 today (she was born January 17, 1922), she’s giving a little present to her fans.
“I can't get over that at this age, I don't feel this age,” admits America’s nonagenarian sweetheart. “I'm not trying to be any younger, I'm not lying about my age – If I were lying about my age, I would say I was 89.”
To celebrate the sensation of getting older and feeling great, last night White debuted her new NBC series “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers,” a hidden camera prank show that has the AARP crowd Punk-ing younger, unsuspecting victims.
“The angle or the strategy of this show is that it's the seniors pranking the younger people, so that instead of they're the poor ones being taken advantage of, don't sell them short!” explains White. “They're just hip enough – and maybe mean enough – to want to get even. So I think it's just kind of a reverse psychology of ‘the poor old senior.’ It's ‘Hey, we've got a sense of humor too, warped as it may be.’”
“My only function really in the production is to be sure that it's not mean‑spirited,” adds White, whose greatest comedy gift has long been her ability to sweeten sharp barbs. “Things aren't funny if it's mean-spirited."
As a veteran of various TV genres over her lengthy career, White says she’s been enamored of the hidden camera format long before Ashton Kutcher adopted it. “I loved ‘Candid Camera’ – I thought that was great,” the actress reveals. “I think hidden cameras are fun because they let you see people as they really are, and it helps us keep our sense of humor. We take ourselves so seriously these days that it's fun to have something where we can make fun of ourselves.”
Along with juggling “Off Their Rockers,” film roles and her hit sitcom “Hot In Cleveland,” White has little room left on her plate to enjoy a little birthday cake. “There's so much going on. Everybody is celebrating it for me. And they're all saying ‘Oh, my goodness! You're 90!’ And I keep trying to explain ‘Don't give me any credit. I didn't do anything to get to be 90. It just happened. But I'm blessed with good health for which I'm deeply grateful. I'm just gonna have fun like, you know, always. Everybody else is far more excited about the 90 than I am.”
White’s more excited about the professional renaissance she’s been enjoying than landmark birthdays. “I'm having the time of my life,” she admits. “I mean, usually you're sweating out when is the next job coming up and all that. Who at this age is lucky enough to be working as much as I am, first of all on a series that I absolutely love with three of the most wonderful gals that ever drew breath, and we have ‑‑ it's a laugh session every day. My book got published, and it's doing very well, my second book this year. I'm the luckiest old broad on two feet, I promise you, and I don't take it for granted for one single minute.”
And yeah, she may sneak in a little celebrating, too. “I might go out and have a little vodka on the rocks,” she laughs.