The Golden Girl: Betty White Kept Black Performer Arthur Duncan On Her 1954 Variety Show Despite Outcry From Racists

She was definitely one of the good ones…

Source: ROBYN BECK / Getty

 

We all knew that the day was coming eventually but we hoped that it wasn’t any time before January 17, 2022. That was the day that Betty White would have turned 100-years-old. She would have spent an entire century on this Earth blessing people with her spirit. Unfortunately, news broke on New Year’s Eve that Betty White wouldn’t be bringing in the new year with us. As many times as her named trended on Twitter and millions around the world gasped in fear of what might be, that time has finally come to pass.

Betty White lived a remarkable life and after her passing stories about that life began to surface and resurface. One of which is about her bravery in the face of anti-Black racism in the 1950s.

According to an article in The Washington Post, White stood ten toes down against her fellow alabaster agency when they through a racist hissy fit when she “allowed” a Black man to grace their TV screens. See, back in 1954 Betty White served as the host and producer of The Betty White Show, a comedic variety show that was geared toward families and entertainment. Part of her show would feature a young Black entertainer by the name of Arthur Duncan. He we as a tap dancer and singer who White was quite fond of and wanted to help him get more exposure. It should come as no surprise that white folks in the south in 1954 weren’t really too fond of this negro commandeering their living rooms.

During the 2018 documentary Betty White: The First Lady of Television, the two recounted the controversy:

And all through the South, there was this whole ruckus,” White remembered in the doc. “They were going to take our show off the air if we didn’t get rid of Arthur, because he was Black.”

“People in the South resented me being on the show, and they wanted me thrown out,” Duncan agreed. “But there was never a question at all.”

“I said, ‘I’m sorry, but, you know, he stays,’ ” she said.“‘Live with it.’ ”

Live. With. It. To this day, Arthur Duncan still credits Betty White with giving him his first big break into the entertainment industry.

We still Stan.

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