Valerie Bertinelli first met Betty White when they shot the pilot for “Hot in Cleveland,” the hit TV Land sitcom that ran from 2010 to 2015.
“I just remember being in awe of her,” Bertinelli told TODAY during an interview in November, more than a month before the TV legend's death. “And she was just like, ‘Oh, it’s no big deal.’ I mean, she’s Betty White, but she just thinks it’s no big deal. And she wanted to be treated like everybody else. And that was important to her and I never could quite do that though.”
Bertinelli said the best way to describe White was that she glowed.
“She literally glows. I don’t know what it is about her. She walks into a room and it’s just, you know when she’s there. She doesn’t even make an entrance, but she’s just there. She’s kind. She’s full of gratitude. She taught me so much about gratitude. And she’s so smart and so funny.”
For Bertinelli, watching the way White’s mind worked was “a master class of comedic acting." Her favorite moments with White on “Hot in Cleveland” were the bloopers.
“It was just the funniest thing because she gets this little impish giggle going on and she gets so mad at herself as well," she said. "And we all love it.”
Another favorite memory from their time on the comedy was when Bertinelli, White and co-stars Jane Leeves and Wendie Malick would go out for dinner together.
“We would just enjoy ourselves,” said Bertinelli. “We’d have a cocktail and, you know, whatever restaurant we were at, we’d usually go to one of Betty’s favorite restaurants and just hanging out with the girls. It was just relaxed and she’s just so lovely and so funny and real.”
Bertinelli said some of White’s other projects she admires are the 2009 film “The Proposal” and White’s “Saturday Night Live” hosting gig the year after.
“She was just hysterically funny. And that’s Betty. I mean, Sue Ann Nivens (from 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show') is one of my favorite characters of hers of all time. Love 'The Golden Girls,' Rose."
She added that White’s numerous roles were “all so very different.”
“That’s what’s so great about Betty as well. She doesn’t play the same thing over and over again. She really is just so brilliant.”
Bertinelli said White remained so beloved by fans for so many decades because “you can just feel how kind she is.”
“She can be wicked funny and say something that’s cutting in such a funny way. But she can get away with that because she’s just so kind. It just comes out of her, it oozes out of her. She’s just one of the kindest people I’ve ever known.”