National Classy Day
annually on January 17th (since 2022)
National Day Calendar on January 1st, 2022
Taking place on the anniversary of the birth of actress and classy lady Betty White, National Classy Day was created "in honor of Betty White and all the women who bring their grace and gifts to their communities and the larger world." According to the day's creators, National Classy Day celebrates "those who are graced with the ability to live their lives with class, passion, and who are driven to share it with others," and it "honors[s] those class acts and commemorates[s] the birth of one of the most legendary comedians ever to walk the Earth." Along with Betty White, the creators list "other iconic women who shared their finer qualities with the world": Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Barbara Pierce Bush, Sacagawea, Diana Princess of Wales, Julia Child, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Nellie Bly, and Bessie Coleman.
Betty White was born in Oak Park, Illinois, on January 17, 1922. Her family moved to Los Angeles when she was a toddler. She took part in student productions while attending Beverly Hills High School, and wrote and starred in her class's graduation play. She did her first broadcast on radio in 1939, kicking off an 82-year career filled with grace and charisma.
In the 1940s, White held small roles in well-known radio programs like This is Your F.B.I. and Blondie. She served in the American Women's Voluntary Services during World War II, delivering soap, toothpaste, and candy to soldiers at gun emplacements in the hills of Santa Monica and Hollywood. Towards the end of the war, she became involved with the Bliss-Hayden Little Theater. Her first performance was in Dear Ruth. Lane Allen, an agent who had been an actor, saw White perform and encouraged her to pursue an acting career. (The couple later married, but the marriage ended in divorce, as did White's first marriage.)
White made her move to television in 1949. She first appeared on the local talk show Hollywood on Television, hosted by Al Jarvis. She succeeded Jarvis in the host seat after he departed. In the 1950s, she had two sitcoms and a variety show. None were long-lasting, and by the 1960s she was most known as a guest, often on game shows, including To Tell The Truth, I've Got a Secret, The Match Game, What's My Line?, and Password. She married the host of Password, Al Ludden, in 1963, and they remained married until he died in 1981.
White's biggest success in television didn't come until she was in her fifties. From 1973 through 1977, she starred as Sue Ann Nivens in seasons four through seven of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. It was one of the most popular sitcoms of the era and remains an iconic show today. In the 1980s, White played Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls, a sitcom about four older women who share a house in Miami. Following its conclusion in 1992, White starred in a spin-off called The Golden Palace and then made guest appearances in shows like Ally McBeal, Boston Legal, Community, and That '70s Show. From 2006 to 2009, she had a recurring role on The Bold and the Beautiful, a daytime soap opera.
By the 2010s, as White aged gracefully with class, she was more famous than ever. In 2010, she hosted Saturday Night Live at the age of 88, garnering the show its highest ratings in a year and a half. During the decade, she had a regular role on Hot In Cleveland, and hosted and produced Betty White's Off Their Rockers, a hidden camera reality show where older people played pranks on younger people. She published two books in 2011, If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won't) and Betty & Friends: My Life at the Zoo, the latter about her work with the Los Angeles Zoo and her long devotion to animals, which she most wanted to be remembered for.
White received many accolades throughout her life. She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1988 and was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1995. She was given the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010, and in 2018 Guinness World Records named her as having the longest TV career by a female entertainer. She was awarded five Primetime Emmy Awards, one competitive Daytime Emmy Award, a Los Angeles regional Emmy (1952), and a lifetime achievement Emmy (2015). Betty White died at the age of 99 on December 31, 2021, just over three weeks shy of her 100th birthday. National Classy Day was created the day after her death and first celebrated 17 days later.
How to Observe National Classy Day
Celebrate by reflecting "on those who've graced the world with their best qualities and made it a better place."
The day's creators also suggest doing the following:
- Bring joy, laughter, or a smile to someone. Share a funny story, pun, or joke.
- Remind someone of their goodness by complimenting them on a talent, skill, or accomplishment.
- Encourage someone to strive for their goals.
- Look for the positive in your day.
- Give someone a little grace. We all have bad days and a little kindness goes a long way.
- Share stories of graceful inspiration with the world by using #NationalClassyDay on social media.
Some other ideas on how to celebrate include:
- Watch a television program that Betty White starred in such as The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Golden Girls, Hot in Cleveland, and Betty White's Off Their Rockers.
- Watch Betty White: Pure Gold or Betty White: First Lady of Television.
- Read Here We Go Again, If You Ask Me: (And of Course You Won't), or Betty & Friends: My Life at the Zoo.