I always wanted to be a zookeeper when I was growing up, and I've wound up a zookeeper! I've been working with the Los Angeles Zoo for 45 years! I'm the luckiest old broad on two feet because my life is divided absolutely in half - half animals and half show business. You can't ask for better than two things you love the most.
I really have to thank Facebook ... I didn't know what Facebook was, and now that I do know what it is, I have to say, it sounds like a huge waste of time. I would never say the people on it are losers, but that's only because I'm polite. People say 'But Betty, Facebook is a great way to connect with old friends.' Well at my age, if I wanna connect with old friends, I need a Ouija Board. Needless to say, we didn't have Facebook when I was growing up. We had phonebook, but you wouldn't waste an afternoon with it.
My mother and dad were big animal lovers, too. I just don't know how I would have lived without animals around me. I'm fascinated by them - both domestic pets and the wild community. They just are the most interesting things in the world to me, and it's made such a difference in my lifetime.
Throughout my career, I've always portrayed characters that were humorous, but also weren't afraid to speak their minds, especially when it came to racy or controversial topics. I think this struck a chord with the LGBT community. We both also share a very strong love for animals. When you combine the two, it's a very strong match.
It's a little known fact that one in three family pets gets lost during its lifetime, and approximately 9 million pets enter shelters each year. That's why it's a wonderful thing to get your pet microchipped and registered with your contact information because then they can be located and the owners can track where their pets are.
I've worked with the Los Angeles Zoo for 45 years, and we have this magnificent photographer, Tad Motoyama. He takes these wonderful, wonderful animal pictures. All through the years he's given me copies of these pictures. Well, I have all these gorgeous ones, so I said, 'Tad, I want to do a book with your picture on one side.'
If you have one good series, you know, it's a blessing. Two good series is unusual. Three is a phenomenon, but right now, I'm working with these wonderful women on 'Hot in Cleveland,' and Valerie Bertinelli, and Wendy Malick and Jane Leeves are like, it's like the buddy-ship we had on 'Golden Girls' and 'Mary Tyler Moore.'
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If everyone took personal responsibility for their animals, we wouldn't have a lot of the animal problems that we do. I'm a big spay-and-neuter supporter. Don't have babies if you're not going to take care of those babies. We don't need more. We just need to take care of the ones we have. Take responsibility and breathe kindness.
I'm not into animal rights. I'm only into animal welfare and health. I've been with the Morris Animal Foundation since the '70s. We're a health organization. We fund campaign health studies for dogs, cats, lizards and wildlife. I've worked with the L.A. Zoo for about the same length of time. I get my animal fixes!
I am interested in a lot of things - not just show business and my passion for animals. I try to keep current in what's going on in the world. I do mental exercises. 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.
I can't get over that at this age I don't feel this age. I'm not trying to be any younger. I'm not lying about my age. If I were lying about my age, I would say I was 89. I'm just at one of those good times in one's life. I'm at one of the high spots. I'm healthy enough to enjoy it. I'm surrounded by friends I adore. Isn't that kind of the best way to sign off?
So much of the humor on new sitcoms plays to the lowest common denominator. Wit isn't nearly given as much attention as slipping on a banana peel. So much of the writing is so coarse, so obvious that it doesn't provide a shock, never mind a laugh. What makes something funny is alluding to it without laying it out explicitly. You let the audiences fill in the gaps and that's where the laughs come.
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I love words. Sudoku I don't get into, I'm not into numbers that much, and there are people who are hooked on that. But crossword puzzles, I just can't - if I get a puppy and I paper train him and I put the - if all of a sudden I'd open the paper and there's a crossword puzzle - 'No, no, you can't go on that, honey. I'll take it.'
I had to make a major decision with myself because I just don't think you can do both: try to have a baby career and raise it and have a baby baby and raise it. And to try to do justice to either one. It was a very conscious decision on my part not to have children - which I have never regretted.
If you're walking with your lady on the sidewalk, I still like to see a man walking street-side, to protect the lady from traffic. I grew up with that, and I hate to see something like that get lost. I still like to see that a man opens the door. I like those touches of chivalry that are fast disappearing.
I didn't know I was a gay icon. I get a lot of mail - but I don't get many bad letters - but I got a woman the other day that was so upset with me because they said, 'How do you feel about the gay marriage thing?' and my answer to that is, 'I really don't care with whom you sleep, I just care what kind of a decent human being you are.' I figure all the rest of it is your business and not mine. And not hers, incidentally.
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Don't try to be young. Just open your mind. Stay interested in stuff. There are so many things I won't live long enough to find out about, but I'm still curious about them. You know people who are already saying, 'I'm going to be 30 - oh, what am I going to do?' Well, use that decade! Use them all!