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Tuesday
May242011

Betty White Fights Old-Age Stereotypes for AARP

Kevin Winter/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Betty White, pushing 90 and still sizzling in TVLand's Hot in Cleveland, is the new face of AARP, hoping to dispel stereotypes about older Americans.

"Just get over it," says White in a new advertising campaign on television and online. AARP is also sponsoring a contest; first prize is a chance to meet the actress on the set of her show.

Some of White's award-winning roles came well after she had turned 50 -- the sex-crazed "Happy Homemaker," Sue Ann Nivens, in television's Mary Tyler Moore Show and the naïve Rose Nylund in Golden Girls.

She also became a Facebook phenomenon after a Super Bowl commercial, and was the center of last year's successful social media push that scored her appearance as the oldest host ever on Saturday Night Live.

"The campaign makes full use of Betty's wit and comedic history," said AARP's Emilio Pardo. "She is reminding us to get over it. It's not about age, it's about attitude."

"The message is, you can't get rid of me," laughed White in an interview with reporters Monday. In the last two years, her peppy visage has been everywhere.

"I think it's your mental attitude," she said. "So many of us start dreading age in high school and that's a waste of a lovely life. 'Oh…I'm 30, oh, I'm 40, oh, 50.' Make the most of it."

White said she has been blessed with good health and "accentuates the positive." She keeps her mind sharp by playing poker and keeping up with her young co-stars. Though she is an octogenarian and pays attention to her balance so as not to fall, she said she still lives in a two-story house and manages the stairs.

"I try to keep current in what's going on in the world. I do mental exercises,” she said. "I don't have any trouble memorizing lines because of the crossword puzzles I do every day to keep my mind a little limber. I don't sit and vegetate."

White, who has no children, was married twice before she found happiness in her 19-year marriage to Allen Ludden, the host of television's Password. He died of stomach cancer in 1981, and she has never remarried.

She confesses she only joined AARP in January. Getting older has its perks, according to White.

"You get a license to steal, being old," she said. "They spoil you rotten and take good care of you. When I am standing waiting for a cue, I turn around and someone pulls a chair behind me -- whether I want it or not. I love the perspective it gives you."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio