When the 63rd Prime Time Emmy Awards are presented Sept. 18, unfortunately, we won’t be seeing what could have been the Ultimate Octogenarian TV Awards Smackdown. No, even though Emmy queens Betty White and Cloris Leachman are each nominees this year, they’re in different categories. Betty is in the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy category where she belongs, while Cloris is a Guest Star nominee despite being on nearly every episode of her show, because that’s how she’s billed, and that’s how she chose to submit herself for Emmy consideration.
Still, awards handicappers are wondering which TV legend will add to her Emmy haul this year — or whether both, or neither, will win. Accordingly, here is a snapshot of the grande dames – or “old broads” as Betty would say – and how they match up:
Cloris Leachman: Born: April 30, 1926, Des Moines, IA
Emmy Nominations 22
Wins 9 (8 primetime, more than any other performer)
Unforgettable As: Frau Blücher in “Young Frankenstein,” Nurse Diesel in “High Anxiety,” Phyllis Lindstrom in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”
Betty White: Born: January 17, 1922, Oak Park, IL
Emmy Nominations: 21
Wins: 7 (6 primetime; she was the first woman to win a Daytime Emmy)
Unforgettable As: Sue Ann Nivens of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” Rose Nyland of “Golden Girls,” Sandra Bullock’s grandmother-in-law to-be in “The Proposal”
Cloris’ Other Honors Include: Academy Award (Best Supporting Actress, 1971, “The Last Picture Show”); induction into Television Hall of Fame; 1 Golden Globe, 1 Screen Actors Guild Award
Betty’s Other Honors Include: 3 Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award, Induction into Television Hall of Fame
Current Job: Cloris says she wasn’t looking to get back into series work when Fox’s “Raising Hope” came her way, but she immediately loved the character of dotty, awful Maw Maw, who goes around in her bra and orange stretch pants, and whose first response to her infant great-granddaughter was “get that dog off my couch!”
Current Job: Betty initially thought she was only going to do the pilot of TV Land’s “Hot in Cleveland” as “a heavy, a villain,” but found she enjoyed her costars so much, she wanted to stick around. Her shady lady Polish caretaker character, Elka Ostrovsky, has developed into “one of the gang” and a driving force on the sitcom.
Cloris’ Other Current/Recent: Upcoming remake of “Gambit” with Cameron Diaz and Colin Firth, Grand Marshall of several Gay Pride parades, 2008 “Dancing With the Stars” as oldest contestant ever.
Betty’s Other Current/Recent: Celebrity Frontwoman for AARP, Facebook campaign that led to SNL hosting, Snickers spot, upcoming show in which seniors punk younger people.
Quotes About Betty: “I’m so sick of Betty White. Never liked her,” “She’s such a slut.”
Quote About Cloris: “Is she still conscious?” (They’re joking!)
Redford Connection: Cloris appeared as a prostitute in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” (1969).
Redford Connection: When Betty’s SAG Life Achievement Award was announced, reporter Gregg Kilday asked her if there were things in show business she’d like to do that she’s yet to do. “With a sly, mischievous smile, White replied: ‘Robert Redford.'”
Ms. Leachman in a Nutshell: Miss Chicago of 1946 and a Miss America contestant, she majored in drama at Illinois State University and Northwestern University, and studied with Elia Kazan at NY’s famous Actors Studio. Plays wild comedy and searing drama with equal brilliance. Married to Hollywood impresario George Englund from 1953 to 1979, Leachman had five children. (Son Bryan died of a drug overdose in 1986.) Animal advocate. Notoriously colorful Hollywood character — everyone seems to have a Cloris story — she’s done interviews while bathing.
Mrs. Ludden in a Nutshell: Three months after graduating from Beverly Hills High School, Betty appeared on an experimental TV station in Los Angeles — in 1939. She performed onstage and on the radio before joining the daily, live variety show “Hollywood on Television” with Al Jarvis in 1949. “The Queen of Game Shows.” The love of her life was third husband Allen Ludden, the “Password” emcee. They were married from 1963 until his death in 1981, and she was stepmother to his children. A great pet lover and highly active in animal welfare for decades, Betty is a Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA) Trustee.
Less Known About Cloris: “Joanne Woodward and I were the only women [film stars] who nursed our babies back when we were new mothers. After that, nursing became popular and a lot of babies were much happier because of that.”
Less Known About Betty: She has a sometimes-naughty sense of humor and there’s a clip of her telling “Golden Girls” castmate Rue McClanahan a blue joke that can be found on the internet. Plays poker.
Cloris loves to eat: “Salad with my fingers”
Betty loves to eat: Hot dogs.
Cloris Deals With Age By: Maintaining her vegetarian lifestyle, getting 10 hours of sleep a night.
Betty Deals With Age By: Not thinking about it (she sleeps maybe five hours a night) and focusing on things that make her happy.