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Betty White talks Robert Pattinson and her successful career at TimesTalk event

Betty White

(Cindy Ord/Getty Images)

Betty White’s new memoir, If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won’t), hit shelves Tuesday. And considering the 89-year-old has shown no signs of slowing down, it wasn’t a surprise that she stopped by The Times Center last night for the TimesTalk event “A Conversation with Betty White.” The seven-time Emmy award-winning actress, interviewed by Frank Bruni, talked about her career, her new book, and shared several stories that kept the audience laughing. White summed up her seven-decade career simply, “I’m the luckiest old broad on two feet.” Here are a few highlights from last night’s chat:

On Robert Pattinson:
The back cover of her book features this praise from Twilight star Robert Pattinson:

“Betty White is one of the sexiest women in America.” White told Bruni she doesn’t know much about that “vampire” – she’s never even met him. But she said she appreciates his voice of confidence, and then added: “But maybe he should see a therapist.”

On her good health:
“I have good genes, but I’m a health nut. My favorite food it hot dogs with french fries. And I get a lot of exercise. I have a two-story house with a very bad memory.”

On her now-famous Saturday Night Live appearance:
White talked about her reluctance to host SNL – she turned Lorne Michaels down three times before agreeing to appear. The self-proclaimed California girl she she was scared of the “New York people” and had a fear of cue cards. They showed part of this SNL clip of White discussing her, umm, muffin. The audience was already laughing, but when the lights came back up, White quickly quipped: “I’m so glad I don’t understand things!”

On The Golden Girls:
She made one thing clear: “Rose is not dumb. She’s just terminally naive.” White said she was closest to Rue McClanahan. The pair would play word games on set in between takes. And although she was crazy about Bea Arthur, “Bea was not that fond” of her. White said her positive attitude often made Arthur mad. As for why a Golden Girls reunion never happened: “Bea is the reason. There were talks, but Bea wouldn’t do it. She said, ‘quit while you’re ahead.’”

On The Mary Tyler Moore Show:
She was supposed to appear on only one episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. [Creator] Allan Burns called and said he had a role for a “happy homemaker who’s this sickening Betty White type.” And Sue Ann Nivens was born.

On her love of animals:
White, who is known for her charity work with animals, said her love for animals began in the womb. She said that of all the creatures she’s handled (lions, rhinoceroses, etc.), the only time she’s ever been hurt was by a swan: “It hit my leg with its wing. I was bruised for weeks!”

On her new show Off Their Rockers:
White talked briefly about her new NBC show, Off Their Rockers, that she is exec producing. “It’s a cousin to Candid Camera where older people getting a jump on young people. The young people don’t know it’s a setup.” White said even though she might work on the open and close of the show, she said she was going to try to stay off-screen: “I need to give you a rest!”

Read more:
Betty White senior citizen prank show coming to NBC

Originally posted May 5 2011 — 1:15 PM EDT

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