10 Moments In Pop Culture Where Betty White Proved She Was The GOAT

It is no doubt difficult to pick just 10 moments that exemplify the GOAT status of legendary actress and pop-culture icon Betty White, who passed on New Year's Eve just a few weeks shy of her 100th birthday. With a vibrant career in film and television that spans over 80 years, there are just so many moments just so much to choose from, ranging from the heartwarming to the hilarious. 

Here's a look back at the highlights of the late, great Betty White's life in the public eye.

Her Response to Racist Threats in the 1950s

To kick things off, let's establish the fact that Betty White was much more than the roles she played, and more than the "funny internet grandma from the memes" that Gen Z may know her as. She was a good person who didn't waiver in the face of hatred.

In 1954, Betty White hosted her own variety show, aptly named "The Betty White Show." On it, she featured Arthur Duncan — a Black entertainer and tap dancer — as a regular cast member. For perspective, this was during the 10 years before the Civil Rights Act would become public law, during a time when racial discrimination and tensions were particularly high. White faced backlash for the inclusion of Duncan on her show during a time when racial segregation was the norm and people didn't even pretend they weren't violently racist.

In response to the backlash, which included threats to boycott the show if she did not fire Duncan, White said "I'm sorry. Live with it," and gave the performer even more airtime. White's refusal to give in to the pressures of racists effectively launched Duncan's career, but at the expense of her show. As a result, NBC decided to play dirty by repeatedly moving the show's time slots and ultimately canceling it, but standing up for what's right clearly didn't have a lasting negative impact on White's career.

When She Made Television History

In 1983, Betty White became the first woman to win a Daytime Emmy Award in the "Outstanding Game Show Host" category. Her hosting skills were so amazing that she earned the title "The First Lady of Game Shows." Decades later at the 70th Emmy Awards, White was honored for her contributions to television entertainment. She ultimately received a total of 21 Emmy Award nominations and 5 wins, eventually becoming known as the "First Lady of Television."

When She Stole the Show from Ryan Reynolds

It's clear that Betty White was a history-making, barrier-breaking juggernaut of an entertainer, making strides for positive representation and inclusion throughout her career. It's also clear that she was funny as hell. Betty White not only repeatedly held her own among entertainers several decades younger than her; she outright stole the show among other talented performers known for their comedic timing. For example, look no further than the above clip of her and Ryan Reynolds, in which she calls him an "ab-crunching jackass" and casually demands that he get her a "f***ing cup of coffee." Truly delightful. 

When She Made Her "Golden Girls" Cast Members Break Character

Further illustrating Betty White's amazing comedic skills is this clip of her improvising an absurd story about a herring circus. Without breaking character as Rose, White delivered the outlandish tale with such conviction that she caused her "Golden Girls" co-stars to break character because they couldn't hold in their laughter.

That Time She Hosted SNL

In 2010, at the age of 88 years old, Betty White became the oldest person to ever host an episode of "Saturday Night Live." Not only did she absolutely kill it in all of her sketches, she also made out with Bradley Cooper during her appearance in the "Californians" sketch. In addition to her solid performances throughout, Betty White's "SNL" episode is considered one of the best of the entire series, garnering a very high score of 8.8/10 on IMBb based on over 445 user votes.

When She Officially Became The Hardest Working Woman in Showbiz

In 2013, Betty White was still making record-breaking moves. With a television career that began in 1939 and never really stopped, White earned the Guinness World Records title for the "Longest TV Career by an Entertainer (female)." It's incredible to think about how White was entertaining audiences for so many years as a game show hostess, Rose Nylund of "Golden Girls," the foul-mouthed Delores Bickerman in "Lake Placid," and so much more, spanning multiple generations and captivating audiences throughout with her comedic timing, positivity, and down-to-earth personality.

Her Ongoing Flirtatious Banter with Ryan Reynolds

All sorts of people — regardless of gender or sexual orientation — fantasize about capturing the attention of handsome funnyman Ryan Reynolds, and Betty White got to live those dreams. Ever since the two worked together for "The Proposal," they've maintained a flirty friendship that has resulted in some very amusing social media posts. 

In fact, just one day before her passing, Reynolds joked about their fictional romance on Twitter.

She Was in the Best Snickers Commercial Ever

Super Bowl commercials are known for being over the top and memorable, and Betty White's appearance in the Snickers commercial that aired during the 2010 Super Bowl is no exception. In fact, White made such an impression in the 30-second ad that she garnered even more work in television ads and experienced a career-boost.

That Time We Found Out She's Older Than Sliced Bread

We've all heard the phrase "the best thing since sliced bread," but in 2016, during her guest appearance on "The Late Late Show with James Corden," we learned that sliced bread is actually the best thing since Betty White. That's right! The beloved actress is older than both the common turn of phrase and the invention of the commercial bread slicing machine. If you're like me and need a credible source, fact-checking website Snopes has confirmed this shocking revelation.

She Was Loved While She Was Here

While it's not technically a single moment in pop culture, it's important to note that society has a curious habit of only giving people their flowers once they're no longer here to appreciate them. With Betty White, her influence was so great that she achieved the status of living legend.

Remaining a relevant and revered entertainer for multiple generations of people is no small feat, and being so incredible that people make a point to honor you before you're six feet under is probably one of the ultimate power moves.

So that's my list. I'm sure 100 different people could all write their own lists about Betty White's most iconic moments in pop culture, and there's a high chance they'd all be very different lists that still depict how and why she really is one of the greatest of all time. RIP to one of the people who proved you can be a good person and still go very far in a world that often seems unfair to people committed to doing their best and staying true to themselves.