Betty White's Super Bowl Snickers Commercial Took Her Down An Unexpected Career Path

The late Betty White was one of the most iconic figures in Hollywood for decades. She had a long list of roles, but was best known for her portrayal of Rose Nylund on "The Golden Girls" and her role as Sue Ann Nivens on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." White's resume was diverse; outside of sitcoms, she was also a movie star, memorably starring alongside Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock in 2009's "The Proposal." She even did a stint on a soap opera, portraying Ann Douglas on "The Bold and the Beautiful." One of her more surprising roles was in a 2010 Super Bowl commercial for Snickers, which blew up in a way White could not have anticipated. 

With such a large audience tuning in to watch the Super Bowl, commercials for the big game are prime advertising and often feature celebs who help boost ratings. So when White appeared in the Snickers promo, it was expected to be popular, but no one (least of all White) was expecting the ad to go viral. While White had already enjoyed an illustrious career by that point, the Super Bowl commercial introduced her to a new audience and created many more opportunities in her career, including commercials with Pepsi and Doritos. "I never have gone away!" she told ESPN. "But ever since that commercial came out, it opened all these doors."

The Snickers commercial introduced Betty White to a new generation

In 2010, Betty White was 88 years old and showed no signs of slowing down in regards to her career. She had just come off of her run on "The Bold and the Beautiful"  and was set to appear in the film "You Again" as Grandma Bunny. But in February, White's Snickers commercial, in which she's tackled by a football player and ends up covered in mud, boosted her reputation as a comedy queen for a whole new generation.

When she was first offered the role, White didn't realize how many people it would reach. "First of all, they invited me to do a role on the commercial, but then it wound up airing on the Super Bowl," she revealed to CBS News. "And then the doors all started opening."

The commercial was also the launch of Snickers' "You're not you when you're hungry" catchphrase. The slogan proved to be immensely popular, as did White's performance, which led to more commercial opportunities and a starring role in the sitcom "Hot in Cleveland." White portrayed Elka Ostrovsky on the show throughout its five-year run. "It can be a life-changer," she told CBS of being in a Super Bowl commercial, adding, "[The Super Bowl] is the biggest stage in the world."

Betty White finally hosted SNL after Snickers success

Out of all the publicity that Betty White received for her viral Snickers commercial, hosting "Saturday Night Live" might be the most notable. White hosted "SNL" exactly one time, in May 2010, along with musical guest Jay-Z. The gig earned the actor her seventh and final Emmy, for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series, but if it were up to White, hosting the show wouldn't have happened. "SNL" producer Lorne Michaels revealed to Entertainment Weekly (via People) that he had wanted White to host years before she agreed.

He tried getting her on the show at the height of her fame from the 1970s through the 1990s, but Michaels said, "After three rejections, I stopped asking." Following her Super Bowl spot, fans clamored to have her host the comedy sketch show, with hundreds of thousands joining a Facebook group dedicated to getting her on "SNL."

With all the hype around White, Michaels decided to invite her on the show again. This time, her friend and agent Jeff Witjas got her to finally agree to host "SNL." Despite her initial reluctance, Witjas said that White enjoyed hosting the show, telling People: "It was hilarious watching her in rehearsals go from one clothing change to another, because you have to do it in minutes, you can't take your time. But she loved it. She got into it, she embraced it, and they were great to her."