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Betty White is the right 'Girl' for 'Saturday Night Live'

Don't call it a comeback. Betty White has been here for years.

The 88-year-old has been acting for at least five decades. In Hollywood, that's no small feat. That lifetime achievement award from the Screen Actors Guild last month was well deserved.

Some are calling it a resurgence — the SAG award, the Snickers commercial, an upcoming Disney movie. And there's the Facebook fan page movement dedicated to getting Betty White to host "Saturday Night Live." It has more than 400,000 fans — more than the page for the show itself. Now there's talk that "SNL" is taking notice.

Still, I don't think this White frenzy is a new thing. Instead, I think it's a result of having developed a lifetime of fans, young and old. I don't think the question is why "Saturday Night Live" should invite her to host. I think it's why not.

People love Betty White. And not that red-carpet, let's-do-lunch-sometime love, either. She's not a passing trend the way the sultry Megan Fox might be. White is a real woman, and people sincerely appreciate her bittersweet demeanor.

It's why she can guest star as herself on shows such as "Ugly Betty" and "30 Rock." It's why she steals scenes in a movie such as "The Proposal."

Although her roles date back to the early 1950s — and some may remember her catty character on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" — White's turn as Rose Nylund on "The Golden Girls" is most memorable.

The show originally aired from 1985 to 1992, but the reruns have kept it alive. College kids and original fans alike watch the show about four single senior women.

They were revolutionary. They changed the face of grandmothers. The show gave elderly women sexuality, independence and a wicked sense of humor.

In a way, I think they gave women longevity in Hollywood. Older actresses aren't stuck playing grannies. Meryl Streep is starring in romantic comedies at the age of 60. Helen Mirren is a sex symbol.

And they didn't just pave the way for older women. I've said it before. They opened the door for shows such as "Sex and the City."

Women just weren't talking so candidly about sex on prime time before Blanche, Dorothy, Sophia and Rose.

All four characters had traits that made them lovable, but there was something about Rose. She could have been discounted as the stupid one. But White brought so much more to that role.

Unlike Jessica Simpson, Paris Hilton and "Jersey Shore's" Snooki, she didn't rest on dumb.

Her smarts may have been offbeat, but they were there. Rose was nurturing, sweet, cynical, independent and surprising. She fused old-school granny traits with the new, modern grandma.

And Betty White has a lot of those same qualities. It's what makes people feel like they know her. Simply put: She's golden.

(c) 2010, The Kansas City Star. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.