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Betty White: A study of how "old" can be "hot"

NBC expects a record-setting number of viewers to watch tonight as Betty White hosts her first Saturday Night Live (SNL). At 88, White has reinvented her comedic talents for every generation, debuting on television in 1949.  Read more about her career.

In January 2010 White appeared in the Snickers ad with Abe Vigoda in what became the most watched ad of Super Bowl XLIV. Also in January, fans launched a Facebook page that garnered over 500,000 friends. By March, White had accepted the invitation to host SNL on Mother’s Day eve, May 8, 2010. She breaks the barrier as the show’s oldest host with her appearance tonight.

Being old often does not carry with it the caché of cool that White’s latest renaissance brings. Just ask the estimated two million unemployed workers aged 55 and older who do what they can to “hide” their age on a resume, certain they are less desirable in the competition for better, well-paying jobs, the jobs they spent their careers perfecting. Cultural trends, however, often grow from opposites, from a fascination of what has been rejected or fallen out of favor. (A recent comparison of the so “subversive” clothing choices by Snowboarding Team USA and Norway’s Curling team in the New York Times Magazine gives the nod to Norway hands-down for its choice of red, white and blue checkered golf pants, a style that has been out of favor on the golf course for years, and has never appeared on curling ice.)

The NY Times also reported on an emerging hair trend with young women in their 30s who are “graying” on purpose. Nylon magazine digital director, Faran Krentcil, “stood out like a beacon” atthis year's New York Fashion Week, after having dipped her hair in “Virgin Snow” before showing up. Using what the industry is now calling “gray lights” to add uniqueness to a look, the trend “seems poised to go mainstream,” says fashion writer Ruth LaFerla. Read Kathryn's take on Fashion Week in New York.

Denver has its own aging “hotty” symbols. Though still in his 50s, comedian Kevin Fitzgerald came to his fame only a little over a decade ago after cultivating his primary profession as a veterinarian. He still practices as a vet and brings his comedy regularly not only to Denver venues, but has achieved national presence on the Animal Planet.  With his signature white mop of hair, Dr. Fitzgerald recently quipped “sheepdog” to the inquiry, “If you were an animal, which would it be?” See Fitzgerald at one of his upcoming gigs.

Tap dancing, once the realm of hoofers like Gene Kelly and Danny Kaye, has a long and deep history originating most likely in African ritual dancing.  It has resurfaced in the past few years, not only for its retro charm, but as a way to stay fit while having fun. Senior populations have taken to tap dancing around the country and Denver is no exception. Metro Denver boasts thirteen elder tap dancing troupes in eleven metro cities, all of whom come together on National Tap Dancing Day, May 22, to celebrate and compete. Southwest Tappers representing Denver YMCA, Rockyettes from Arvada Apex Center, and Lakewood Wreckers are just three of the senior tapping troupes on display at the Apex Community Recreation Center in Arvada, CO. For more information contact 303-425-9583.

Watch Betty White’s SNL promo video below for a preview of what to expect tonight.

Kathryn also writes as Denver Disability Examiner and Denver Mobility Products Examiner. Contact for inquiries and to suggest future topics. Select “subscribe” to receive Kathryn’s Examiner.com articles on a regular basis.
 

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