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The Quick 10: Why Betty White is Awesome

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Between her Snickers Super Bowl ad, the petition to have her host Saturday Night Live and just because she's awesome in general, Betty White has been getting a lot of press lately. She's been in the business since the 1940s, so you can bet Betty has a few interesting stories up her sleeve. Wouldn't you just love to sit at the kitchen table and eat late-night cheesecake with her? (That's for you fellow Golden Girls fans.) Here are a few of the tales she might tell.

betty white1. Like a bunch of other celebrities, Betty graduated from Beverly Hills High School. Class of '39!

2. Don't call her Elizabeth "“ it's not her name. Her parents went with "Betty" on her 1922 birth certificate because they weren't too keen on any of the other nicknames that can go along with Elizabeth.

3. One of her first gigs was as a disc jockey, kind of. She was the assistant to Al Jarvis, who hosted a program called Hollywood on Television, a variety show that included playing records just like a radio disc jockey did. Betty was Al's right-hand woman for a few years in the "˜40s and ended up taking over the show entirely when he left.

4. She's been calling the shots since a time when women didn't get to call the shots very much. Betty received credits as co-creator, producer, and star of the 1952 sitcom Life with Elizabeth. The show earned Betty her first Emmy - Outstanding Lead Actress. She wouldn't see another one until 1975, when she won for Outstanding Supporting Actress for her role in The Mary Tyler Moore Show (see #8).

5. You probably don't want to have her over for game night, unless you don't mind losing. In the "˜50s and "˜60s, Betty was known as "The First Lady of Game Shows" thanks to her appearances on Password, What's My Line, To Tell the Truth, Match Game and Pyramid.

6. In fact, she even married a game show host. She met her third husband, Password host Allen Ludden, during a guest appearance. If you're familiar with Ludden, you know he later started his shows with the trademark phrase, "Hi, Doll." This was his little nod to Betty's mom, Tess, who was an avid watcher. Betty and Allen were married from 1963 until his death in 1981. Here's a fun clip of the two of them appearing on the game show Tattletales together. I love it when Betty cracks up.

7. She might seem sweet, but Ms. White has a wicked sense of humor. When fellow Golden Girl Rue McClanahan was hospitalized after having a stroke a few weeks ago, a friend of Rue's reported that Betty had sent Rue a "Don't Get Well" card that said something along the lines of, "Dear Rue, I hope you hurry up and die so I can be the last Golden Girl left. NOT KIDDING." Rue apparently got a huge kick out of it.

8. There's a generation of us who probably know Betty White mostly from her ditzy role as Rose Nylund on Golden Girls. When our favorite show about sassy elderly women first came on the scene, though, television audiences were most familiar with Betty as the tart-tongued, man-hungry Sue Ann Nivens from The Mary Tyler Moore Show. In fact, she was initially offered the role of similarly insatiable Blanche Devereaux because of her previous role as Sue Ann. At the first table reading for the show, Rue and Betty switched characters to avoid being typecast (Rue had previously played a sweet, naïve, Rose-type character) and it was declared genius. You can read more about the Golden Girls days in Kara Kovalchik's post that followed Estelle Getty's death in 2008.

9. Another example of Betty's not-so-sweet humor: if you ask her if there's anything she hasn't done in her career, her stock reply is, "Robert Redford." She confessed a couple of weeks ago that she's never actually met him and would now be embarrassed if she did.

10. Despite all of her success in the television and film industries, Betty has said that when her time comes, she would rather be remembered for her work with animals and animal-related charities. But don't call her an activist! Here's what she has to say about that:

"I don't get into the political side or the demonstrative side. I'm just totally devoted to health and welfare. You know what the problem that animal activists sometimes have? They only concentrate on the heartbreaking things to the point where the general public think, 'Oh, here comes those animal folks again and I'm going to hear all the things I don't want to hear.' They forget to celebrate all the gains that we've made. ... Sure, there are still big problems, but we're making some good moves. I'm a big cockeyed optimist. I try to accentuate the positive as opposed to the negative."

What do you think about the Betty on SNL campaign? I'm all for it! I'll leave you with one of my favorite Betty White moments "“ when she played beer pong on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

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10 Sweet Facts About Candy Canes
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The sweet and striped shepherd’s hooks can be found just about everywhere during the holiday season. It's time you learned a thing or two (or 10) about them.

1. THEY’VE BEEN AROUND SINCE THE 17TH CENTURY.

While the origins of the candy cane are a bit murky, legend has it that they first appeared in hooked form around 1670. Candy sticks themselves were pretty common, but they really took shape when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany got the bright idea of twisting them to look like shepherd’s hooks. He then handed them out to kids during church services to keep them quiet.

2. A GERMAN IMMIGRANT BROUGHT THE TRADITION TO THE STATES.

It’s no surprise, then, that it was a German immigrant who introduced the custom to America. The first reference we can find to the tradition stateside is 1847, when August Imgard of Wooster, Ohio, decked his home out with the sugary fare.

3. THEY HAVEN’T ALWAYS BEEN STRIPED.

Candy canes without the red don’t seem nearly as cheery, do they? But that’s how they were once made: all white. We’re not really sure who or exactly when the scarlet stripe was added, but we do know that images on cards before the 1900s show snow white canes.

4. THEY’RE A (RELATIVELY) VIRTUOUS HOLIDAY TREAT.

Most candy canes are around five inches long, containing only about 50 calories and no fat or cholesterol.

5. THEY DON’T ALWAYS FIT ON A CHRISTMAS TREE.

The world’s largest candy cane was built by Geneva, Illinois chef Alain Roby in 2012.  It was 51 feet long, required about 900 pounds of sugar, and was eventually smashed up with a hammer so people could take home a piece.

6. EVERYONE HAS THEIR OWN WAY OF EATING THEM.

Fifty-four percent of kids suck on candy canes, compared to the 24 percent who just go right for the big crunch. As you may have been able to guess, of those surveyed, boys were nearly twice as likely to be crunchers.

7. MORE THAN A BILLION ARE MADE EACH YEAR.

According to the National Confectioners Association, about 1.2 billion candy canes are made annually, and 90 percent of those are sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Which honestly begs the question: Who’s buying the 10 percent in the off season?

8. A PRIEST PLAYED A MAJOR ROLE IN THE CANDY’S MOVE TO MASS PRODUCTION.

Bobs (that’s right; no apostrophe) Candies was the first company to really hang its hat on the sweet, striped hook. Lt. Bob McCormack began making candy canes for his kids in the 1920s, and they were such a hit he decided to start mass-producing them. With the help of his brother-in-law, a Catholic priest named Gregory Harding Keller (and his invention, the Keller Machine), McCormack was eventually able to churn out millions of candy canes a day.

9. THEY HAVE THEIR OWN (ODDLY-TIMED) HOLIDAY.

December 26 is National Candy Cane Day. Go figure.

10. THE PROCESS FOR MAKING THEM BY HAND IS MESMERIZING.

Here’s how they make candy canes at Disneyland—it’s a painstaking (and beautiful) technique.

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10 Actors Who Hated Their Own Films
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1. Sylvester Stallone, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Sly doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to his film career. Despite co-starring with the delightful Estelle Getty as the titular violence-prone mother, Stallone knows just how bad the film was:

"I made some truly awful movies. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was the worst. If you ever want someone to confess to murder, just make him or her sit through that film. They will confess to anything after 15 minutes."

2. Alec Guinness, Star Wars.

By the time he played Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, Guinness had already appeared in cinematic classics like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Great Expectations and Lawrence of Arabia. During production, Guinness is reported to have said the following:

"Apart from the money, I regret having embarked on the film. I like them well enough, but it's not an acting job, the dialogue - which is lamentable - keeps being changed and only slightly improved, and I find myself old and out of touch with the young."

The insane amount of fame he won for the role as the wise old Jedi master took him somewhat by surprise and, ultimately, annoyed him. In his autobiography A Positively Final Appearance: A Journal, Guinness recalls a time he encountered an autograph-seeking fan who boasted to him about having watched Star Wars more than 100 times. In response, Guinness agreed to provide the boy an autograph under the condition that he promise never to watch the film again.

3. Bob Hoskins, Super Mario Brothers. He was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. As far as I’m concerned, Bob Hoskins is forgiven for Super Mario Bros. Hoskins, though, doesn’t seem to be able to forgive himself. Last year the Guardian spoke with the veteran actor about his career and he summed up his feelings rather succinctly:

What is the worst job you've done?
Super Mario Brothers.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
Super Mario Brothers.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I wouldn't do Super Mario Brothers.

4. George Clooney, Batman & Robin. Sure, Batman & Robin made money. But by every other imaginable measure, the film was a complete failure, and a nightmare to the vast majority of the Caped Crusader’s most fervent fanatics. Star George Clooney recognized what a stinker he helped create and once plainly stated, “I think we might have killed the franchise.”

5. David Cross, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. When actors have a movie out, it's customary that they publicize the film by saying nice things about it. Earlier this year David Cross took a different approach. When it came to describing his new film Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, the veteran comedian — better known for Mr. Show and Arrested Development — went on Conan and called the film a “big commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines” and told people not to go see it.

6. Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up. Judd Apatow’s unplanned pregnancy comedy was a huge hit and helped cement her status as a bankable film actress. After the film’s release, however, Heigl didn’t have all good things to say. In fact, what she specifically said about it was that the film was:

"…A little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys.”

7. Charlize Theron, Reindeer Games. The 2000 action film Reindeer Games starred Ben Affleck, Gary Sinese and Charlize Theron and was directed by John Frankenheimer. But it all somehow failed to come together. In the end the film lost a lot of money and compiled a wealth of negative reviews – including one from its star actress who simply said, “Reindeer Games was not a good movie.”

8. Mark Wahlberg, The Happening. Mark Wahlberg doesn’t exactly seem like a guy who lives his life afraid of trees. But that is the odd position M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 film The Happening put him in. Wahlberg, as it turns out, doesn’t look back too fondly on the film. He went on record during a press conference for The Fighter when he described a conversation with a fellow actor:

"We had actually had the luxury of having lunch before to talk about another movie and it was a bad movie that I did. She dodged the bullet. And then I was still able to … I don’t want to tell you what movie … alright “The Happening.” F*** it. It is what it is. F***ing trees, man. The plants. F*** it. You can’t blame me for not wanting to try to play a science teacher. At least I wasn’t playing a cop or a crook."

9. John Cusack, Better Off Dead. John Cusack reportedly hated his cult 80s comedy so much that he walked out of the screening and later told the film’s director Steve Holland that Better Off Dead was "the worst thing I have ever seen" and he would "never trust you as a director again."

10 Christopher Plummer, The Sound of Music. The Sound of Music is considered a classic and has delighted many generations of fans. But the film's own lead actor, Christopher Plummer, didn't always sing its praises. Mr. Von Trapp himself declined to participate in a 2005 film reunion and, according to one acquaintance, has referred to the film as The Sound of Mucus.

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