Betty White will have you know that her bawdy, naughty persona is nothing new.
"Honey, I've been getting away with it for 63 years. I hate to tell you. I've been doing double-entendre all my life," says the 89-year-old actress, whose career resurgence includes starring opposite Sandra Bullock in The Proposal, hosting Saturday Night Live and playing the caretaker on Hot in Cleveland.
While some may think White has turned into a one-trick pony with her risqué humor, she says, "It's just fun."
Recent "fun" came at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, where she felt up the naked male statue during her acceptance speech. "I didn't know I was groping the statue," White insists. "Did I grope it? I didn't realize. I was so surprised to get it because I had no idea with that competition. I was just surprised to see him there."
White points to her father's profession as a basis of her sense of humor. "My father was a traveling salesman and, growing up, we'd sit around the breakfast table or the dinner table and he'd bring jokes home," she says. "They'd never explain them to me, but either I got them or I didn't, and that was it. They'd say, 'Honey, you can take that one to school, but I wouldn't take that story to school.'"
TV fans going back four decades remember the man-obsessed Sue Ann Nivens from the classic Mary Tyler Moore Show. She was "The Happy Homemaker" — who could also be a snide, horny homewrecker.
White's Hot in Cleveland co-stars say they enjoy her playful demeanor. "She is so sharp and so fast," Wendie Malick says. "You've got to be on your game to stay up with her."
White isn't the only one on the set who brings the jokes. Before shooting, they sit around the kitchen table each day to chat, co-star Valerie Bertinelli says, adding that she'd love to publish a book of "Bettyisms."
"It gets disgusting on our set," Jane Leeves says. Adds Malick: "We're all irreverent, but really nice people."
White again was saucy at the PaleyFest panel Tuesday night, when she got a standing ovation as she hit the stage.
"Literally, every week we get a call from some gentleman, say 65-plus, who wants to date Betty on the show," showrunner Suzanne Martin said — to which White replied: "Can I get any of their numbers?"
Do you think White's jokes are inappropriate or is she just having fun?
Hot in Cleveland airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on TV Land.