Betty White is asked often about what's behind her recent resurgence in popularity. About why, as she twinkles toward triple digits, the past decade has been among her busiest — a hit sitcom (Hot in Cleveland), movies, TV commercials and cameos.
"I have not the foggiest idea," she previously told The New York Times. "At this point, who would ever dream that you’d be working this much? But I’m enjoying it thoroughly. Why retire from something you love? They’ll retire you fast enough."
She may not understand her appeal. But the rest of us do.
The making of an icon.
As the popular piece of pop-culture trivia goes, Betty White is older than sliced bread. By six years, in fact.
'Bets', as her mother called her, was born in Illinois on January 17, 1922, in the depths of the Great Depression. Her father worked for an electrical company, which saw the family transferred to California when she was just an infant.
He'd make and sell radios for extra money, or whatever goods he was willing to accept as payment from his cash-strapped customers. As an ardent animal lover, that was often a dog.
"The radios didn't eat, but the dogs did," Betty told The Television Academy Foundation. "I think we ended up with 20 dogs at one point... That was not one of his better business endeavours."
The legacy of that beloved backyard kennel has stayed with Betty.
She's always been a dog owner, is a patron of several animal charities, and has a room in her California home crowded with a zoo of plush toys: "I'm a little strange for stuffed animals. I'm a little strange for any kind of animal," she told Yahoo's Katie Couric, laughing. "Except possibly the two-legged kind."