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The One Role That Changed The Course Of Betty White's Career Forever

Over the course of a remarkable nine decades and spanning everything from film and television to radio, Betty White built an illustrious career. 

Her comedic timing, razor-sharp wit, and undeniable charm made her one of the most recognizable and well-loved faces in all of Hollywood. Working well into the 2010s, she earned herself a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records as the Longest Running TV Career for an Entertainer (Female) (via Today). White received five Emmy Awards, three American Comedy Awards, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, and a Grammy Award throughout this career (via IMDb). She even landed a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and The Television Hall of Fame honored her with an induction in 1995 alongside Michael Landon and Dick Van Dyke.

With such a long and illustrious career, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly which role was the one that made her a star. Which of these iconic TV series changed the course of her career?

Mary Tyler Moore made her a multi-award winner

While many of today's fans were likely introduced to Betty White as the absent-minded and flighty Rose on "The Golden Girls," her star was already all but cemented on the Hollywood Walk of Fame when that series premiered in 1985. The pre-"Golden Girls" fans knew her well from the decade before when she appeared on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" as the brazen and flirtatious Sue Ann Nivens. If you only knew White from her role as Rose, it may surprise you to know that she played a character more similar to Blanche (Rue McClanahan) a decade earlier.

Nivens was the sweet, lovable host of the fictional "The Happy Homemaker" show on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." Or, at least, that was her TV persona. Off-camera, Nivens was more akin to the types of comedic roles we've seen from White in recent years: full of sexual innuendos and quick with a pointed (but always funny) insult. 

Her run as Nivens spanned 45 episodes over four seasons and earned her back-to-back Emmy Awards. While Rose may be her most iconic role to many, Sue Ann displayed the staying power and the prowess that could have landed her gig on "The Golden Girls." When White was asked by Oprah to name her favorite role she ever played, the first name that came to mind was Sue Ann Nivens.