How Golden Girl Betty White Became a Golden Meme

Betty White warmed our hearts and made us smile as Rose in ‘Golden Girls’, made us laugh as Sue Ann Nivens on ‘Mary Tyler Moore’ and stolen the show in dozens of other productions. Her career spans more than half a century, but in recent months she has experienced the ultimate in old time celebrity comebacks. It started with a Superbowl commercial and has resulted in Betty White becoming one of the biggest memes since Lolcats and Rickrolling.

It began with a Facebook page, ‘Betty White to Host SNL (please)!’, which was most likely inspired by White’s Superbowl commercial, considering the timing. Within a short time the page had 500,000 users and NBC took a hint and invited White to host the show. She agreed, and if you are like most of the rest of the world you stayed up late to watch last weekend. But Betty White’s wild ride didn’t stop there!

We reported Wednesday that a new fan page has popped up to try to get Betty White on Glee. The group is growing at a rapid pace. When we covered the story less than 48 hours ago it had 350 “likes” and has already grown to nearly 7,000. It seems that Betty White has become one of the web’s most viral celebrities.

Betty White has been on the front page of Digg, a trending topic on Twitter and clips from her SNL appearance have been at the top of the Hulu charts since the show went live last week. Betty White apparel is flying off the virtual shelves as this Golden Girl has proved to be the best thing since sliced bread.

But let’s be honest for a minute here. Most of us haven’t given a second thought to Betty White since the Golden Girls went off the air in 1992. Sure, she’s made guest appearances on a number of shows and had a stint on ‘Boston Legal’, but odds are you haven’t been sitting around your house contemplating what a comedic genius she is and trying to figure out ways to see more of her.

So what is it that turned Betty White into a meme, spreading through all channels of the Internet like wildfire? I think that the very idea of campaigning for Betty White, an adorable little old lady, to host Saturday Night Live was just so different that people couldn’t help but jump on board. Time will only tell which direction the Betty White meme will go from here. What do you think is the appeal of Betty White and why has her social media career taken off so quickly?

Publish date: May 14, 2010 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT