Aster-Obit: Betty White

Just as the year 2021 came to its close, so did the life of Betty White, one of the most beloved entertainers in America.  Fate was oftentimes a friend to Betty throughout her long life, but unkind to her at its end – she expired barely two weeks before her 100th birthday.  Just days before her passing, she had tweeted her eager anticipation of the star-studded celebrations planned to commemorate her centennial.

White, who enjoyed the longest career of any female entertainer, was an actor and singer noted for her comedic talents.  From the sugar-spiked sexpot Sue Ann Nivens in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”, to the naïve sexagenarian ingenue Rose Nylund of “The Golden Girls” and the acerbic house caretaker Elka Ostrovsky on “Hot in Cleveland”, White continued to delight TV audiences for over seven decades with her unique brand of charm and humor.

 

Born 17 January 1922 at 6:38 PM CST in Oak Park, Illinois (Rodden Rating AA), White’s comedic chops were celestially supported, in spades!  Asteroid Thalia at 0 Scorpio, named for the Greek Muse of Comedy, is in an out-of-Sign square with the 27 Capricorn Sun, broadly squared Mercury at 10 Aquarius as well.  Thalia is also involved in a Grand Trine with Uranus at 7 Pisces and Pluto at 8 Cancer, reflecting her unique style (Uranus) and the deeply transformative influence (Pluto) which comedy (Thalia) would be on her life.  This pattern becomes a Kite with the addition of asteroid White at 8 Virgo, opposing Uranus, at its “string”, further personalizing its potential to her and guiding the Grand Trine’s manifestation.

A memorial grows at Betty White’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; with asteroid Thalia, named for the Muse of Comedy, in square to her Sun, and asteroid Hilaritas, the root of our word “hilarity”, at station, White had a genius for making people laugh

As well, asteroid Hilaritas, named for the Roman term for merriment and cheerfulness, and root of our word “hilarity”, appears at station, making it an embedded factor in White’s character and biography.  Turning direct just six days after her birth, Hilaritas at 7 Gemini participates in a Grand Trine with Saturn at 7 Libra and Mercury at 10 Aquarius, depicting the comedic (Hilaritas) timing (Saturn/Mercury) for which she was famed.  A second Kite is formed by Hilaritas’ opposition to asteroid Actor at 10 Sagittarius, identifying her as a professional (Saturn) comedic (Hilaritas) actress (Actor), best known for her work in television (Uranus).

White, identified early in her career as “non photogenic”, cut her teeth in radio, but quickly proved her skeptics wrong, eventually being referred to as “the First Lady of Television.”  But her contributions to the industry didn’t end when the cameras stopped rolling.  She was among the first women to exert control in front of and behind the camera, and the first woman to produce a sitcom (“Life with Elizabeth”, in 1953), a true pioneer who garnered eight Emmy Awards in various categories, three American Comedy Awards, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, and a Grammy Award, with a Guinness World Record as the longest-working performer in television.

A variety of small parts (some unpaid) and supporting roles was followed by Variety TV work (which she hosted and in which she frequently sang) and short-lived series where she starred, supplemented with frequent game show appearances, which together dominated her career in the ‘50s and ‘60s.  But she struck comedy gold in 1973 when she joined the cast of the smash hit, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”, at first in a guest role, later integrated into the ensemble cast.  White made her mark nationally as Sue Ann Nivens, the faux-saccharin, man-hungry host of “The Happy Homemaker”, a cooking show filmed at the same station as the newsroom which centered the series.  White’s Nivens made an art of the double entendre and the backstabbing aside, a master of slopping sugar while she verbally cut one to the quick.

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Happy Homemaker Sue Ann Nivens on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” was White’s breakout role; asteroid Niven conjunct career-minded Saturn and celebrity-generating Jupiter tells the tale

A cosmic marker of the importance of this role to her career and fame is seen as asteroids Niven (for character Sue Ann Nivens) at 16 Libra and Mary (for “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”) at 13 Libra, which punctuate the zone between natal Saturn (career) at 7 Libra and Jupiter (celebrity) at 18 Libra.  These oppose asteroid Moore at 14 Aries with asteroid Betti (alternate spelling of Betty) at 7 Aries, further linking White to the show that made her famous.

When White first appeared on MTM, on 15 September 1973, asteroids Tyler and White conjoined Uranus at 17, 18 and 21 Libra respectively, topping the natal cluster and energizing its potential, and binding the actress to the show.  The Sun at 22 Virgo was fast approaching her natal Moon at 28 Virgo, and anchoring a T-Square of asteroids Mary at 24 Gemini, Betti at 24 Sagittarius, and Hilaritas at 25 Sag, once again linking White with the series.  Asteroid Niven at 12 Sagittarius conjoined Neptune at 4 Sag, opposed asteroid Moore at 6 Gemini, for the breakout acting (Neptune) role (Niven) on TV’s most popular sitcom (Moore).  A combination of Thalia at 10 Scorpio with Venus at 2 Scorpio, T-Squared Mars at 9 Taurus and Jupiter at 2 Aquarius on the fulcrum, defines sexuality (Mars) as the characteristic which would propel the female (Venus) comedian (Thalia) to fame and celebrity (Jupiter).

When MTM folded four years later, White was rolled immediately into her own eponymous series, “The Betty White Show”, which had the bad luck to be slated opposite Monday Night Football, and failed due to poor ratings after one season.  White filled most of the next decade as Ellen Harper Jackson on “Mama’s Family”, reprising a role she had originated as a guest in sketches on “The Carol Burnett Show” in the ‘70s.  But lightning struck again in 1985 when she was cast in “The Golden Girls”, with Rue McClanahan and Bea Arthur.

McClanahan had appeared with White in “Mama’s Family”, and Arthur and McClanahan had also worked together before, in “Maude.”  Arthur’s role as the daughter of octogenarian Estelle Getty was the show’s anchor, flanked by White, originally typecast as the southern sexpot Blanche Devereaux, descending from her Sue Ann Nivens days; and McClanahan, cast as the ditzy ingenue Rose Nylund, based on her passive, homemaker role in “Maude”.  The ladies took one look at the script, and said, “We want to switch!”, and comedy gold was born.  The series ran from 1985 through 1992, and White was nominated for an Emmy as “Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series” every year, winning once.  (White was Emmy-nominated a total of 24 times throughout her career, being honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015.)

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Betty White (right) as Rose Nylund on “The Golden Girls“, with series co-stars Bea Arthur and Rue McClanahan; asteroid Rosa (closest to Rose) is in a Grand Cross with Saturn (career), Pluto (transformation) and asteroid Betti, for the role that became the zenith of her career

Again, the show’s impact on White’s biography can be gleaned from her birth chart.  Asteroid Golden at 15 Gemini conjoins Hilaritas at 7 Gemini, forming part of the Kite pattern which includes Saturn and Mercury, and is also sesquiquadrate the Sun.  Asteroid Rosa (closest to Rose) at 11 Capricorn lies squared to Betti at 7 Aries, allowing White to fully embody the role with a personal connection, and is in a Grand Cross with Saturn at 7 Libra and Pluto at 8 Capricorn, for the transformative (Pluto) part which would catapult her to the zenith of her career (Saturn).  (Rosa had already proved a powerful draw on White’s legacy, long before GG:  in the 1950s, White began a nineteen-year run as hostess and commentator on the annual Rose Parade broadcast on NBC, in essence its public face; in 1975, NBC replaced her as commentator hostess of the Tournament of Roses Parade, feeling that she identified too heavily with rival network CBS’s “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”.)

When “The Golden Girls” premiered on 14 September 1985 (note, just one day prior to her 1973 entrance into MTM, with a full Jupiter cycle between them), Betti and Hilaritas are once again conjunct, at 2 and 7 Pisces (and activating her natal Kite).  These oppose a cluster of Mars with asteroids Golden and Thalia, and Mercury, at 2, 6, 8 and 14 Virgo respectively, for the series that, more than any other, focused on “talking sex” (Mercury/Mars) from women entering their golden years (Golden), with comedy (Thalia, Hilaritas) and grace.  In its day, GG was groundbreaking, not only for its frank portrayal of senior sex appetites, but also for its inclusion of gay and lesbian characters and highlighting sensitive issues such as drug abuse, domestic violence, Alzheimer’s and HIV/AIDS.  Betti/Hilaritas also appears at the Apex of a Yod, or Finger of Destiny, with inconjunct aspects to Golden/Thalia and asteroid Rosa at 3 Libra, again granting White a personal connection to the role that she seemed destined to play.

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A well-received Super Bowl XLIV commercial for Snickers in 2010 revived White’s career; within six months she was starring in a new series

The Golden Girls” ended in 1992 with Bea Arthur’s departure; at 70, Betty White was at an age when many would be seriously considering retirement.  A spinoff, “The Golden Palace”, reunited the remaining cast, but, sans Arthur, lacked the punch of their original interplay, and lasted only one season.

But White had one more hit show in her.  In 2010, just shy of her 89th birthday, she was cast as Elka Ostrovsky in TV Land’s first original series, “Hot in Cleveland”, along with Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, and Wendie Malick, three forty-something friends renting a house for which White was caretaker.  The show lasted six seasons, and White received another Emmy nomination as Supporting Actress.

Once again, we find the cosmos supportive of her efforts.  Asteroid Cleveland (for “Hot in Cleveland”) at 21 Taurus is sesquiquadrate Saturn (career) at 7 Libra, semisquare Betti at 7 Aries; asteroid Elko (closest to Elka) at 12 Aquarius is angular, on the 19 Aquarius Descendant, conjoined Mercury and sextile Betti, trine Saturn; asteroid Ostrovskij (alternate spelling) at 25 Gemini is squared the 28 Virgo Moon and inconjunct the 27 Capricorn Sun, all of which granted White that personal connection to the part which is so pivotal for a successful performance.

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White as Elka Ostrovsky in “Hot in Cleveland“, her final series role; asteroid Elko (closest to Elka) is conjoined the Descendant, trine Saturn and sextile Betti

When “Hot in Cleveland” premiered on 16 June 2010, the Sun at 25 Gemini was an exact match for natal Ostrovskij, in a T-Square with a Hilaritas/Saturn conjunction at 24 and 28 Virgo (atop White’s natal Moon) and a Uranus/Jupiter conjunction at 0 and 1 Aries, affirming the spotlight (Sun) placed on the comedy career (Hilaritas/Saturn) of a TV celebrity (Uranus/Jupiter).  Asteroid White at 7 Gemini was an exact match for natal Hilaritas, while a Pluto/Ostrovskij pairing at 4 and 6 Capricorn feeds directly into her Saturn/Betti opposition, again activating White’s career.  Incredibly, an exact triple conjunction of asteroids Actor, Thalia and Elko, all at 29 Taurus, reiterates this latest comedic (Thalia) acting (Actor) role (Elko).

We can’t memorialize Betty White without mention of her eternal passion for animal welfare.  A tireless advocate for both domestic pets and wildlife, White worked with several welfare and conservation organizations including the Los Angeles Zoo Commission, The Morris Animal Foundation (where she served as a trustee of the organization since 1971), African Wildlife Foundation, and Actors and Others for Animals.  She was a member of the board of directors of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association since 1974, shortly after producing and hosting a syndicated series, “The Pet Set”, where she introduced viewers first to pets, and then to their celebrity owners!

White’s humanitarian and conservation instincts towards animals can be traced to her 10 Aquarius Mercury’s opposition to Neptune at 15 Leo, which straddles the Ascendant/Descendant axis at 19 Leo/Aquarius, and formed such a large part of her public image.  Mercury rules pets, while Neptune rules rescuing, saving and altruistic endeavors.  In addition, asteroids Katz (German for “cat” and a phonetic match) and Kitty exactly conjoin each other at 22 Capricorn, conjoined the Sun at 27 Cap, making pets in general, and felines in particular, self-identifying factors for her.

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A young Betty White showcases her love of animals; animal welfare and rescue was a passion for her, with Mercury (ruling pets) opposed Neptune (altruism, rescue and saving)

When Betty White died on 31 December 2021, the skies reflected her passing.  Asteroid White at 27 Sagittarius opposed asteroid Rip at 25 Gemini (a death indicator in the form of the acronym “RIP”, “Rest In Peace”, a common tombstone inscription), T-Squared with asteroid Anubis (named for the ancient Egyptian deity governing funerary rites) at 20 Virgo.  White also conjoined asteroid Lachesis at 2 Capricorn, named for the mythic Greek Fate who determines the span of life.

Anubis was at station, as it was at her birth, preparing to turn retrograde on January 12th (in 1922, it also stationed on the 12th, moving direct).  Anubis’ natal placement at 28 Taurus had been ignited by the Lunar Eclipse of November 19th at 27 Taurus, signaling her potential demise, and was opposed at her death by transit asteroid Betti, at 21 Scorpio, which also conjoined natal asteroids Lachesis, Atropos (her sister, who severs the thread of life at death) and Rip, at 14, 23 and 26 Scorpio.   Transit Betti and natal Anubis formed a T-Square with transit Damocles, the doom hanging unseen overhead, at 25 Aquarius when she unexpectedly died.

Asteroid Actor at 5 Taurus was also at station (it turned direct the day prior), conjoined Uranus at 10 Taurus and asteroid Osiris (named for the Egyptian god of the dead) at 29 Aries, again suggesting the sudden, unexpected nature (Uranus) of her passing (Osiris).  Transit asteroid Requiem (named for the funeral mass for the dead) was at station at 9 Virgo, turning retrograde the day after, and with transit Atropos at 7 Scorpio formed the base of a Yod, with natal asteroid Betti on its Apex at 7 Aries, seeming to suggest a fated ending.

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A grassroots campaign from fans in 2010 prompted producers to invite Betty White to host “Saturday Night Live” at age 88; she remains the show’s oldest host

The transit Sun at 10 Capricorn was highlighting natal asteroid Rosa at 11 Cap, recalling her most famous role, and formed a Grand Cross with natal Saturn at 7 Libra, the ancient lord of death, natal Pluto at 8 Cancer, the modern lord of death, and natal asteroid Betti at 7 Aries, bringing this energy home directly to White.

Betty White will live in our hearts (and in syndication) forever, bringing smiles to faces for many generations to come.

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