Betty White's critically praised appearance boosted "Saturday Night Live" to its best ratings in 18 months. The four-time prime-time Emmy champ certainly lived up to the hype and could be rewarded with her 17th Emmy nomination.
When the Emmy Awards eliminated the individual performance in a variety series category last year, "SNL" hosts became eligible to contend in the guest acting races. Emmy darling Tina Fey and Justin Timberlake both won for their stellar turns at the helm of this late-night staple. White, nominated for her over-the-top appearance as Crazy Witch Lady on "My Name is Earl," was one of those felled by Fey.
White won the last of her four prime-time Emmys in 1996 for playing an exaggerated version of herself on "The John Larroquette Show." She also contended in the guest comedy actress category for appearances on "Suddenly Susan" in 1997 (Carol Burnett won Emmy no. 7 for "Mad About You") and "Yes, Dear" in 2003 (Christina Applegate won for "Friends").
Women of a certain age have dominated this Emmy race as of late. Playing a little old lady with a twist on "Malcolm in the Middle" won Cloris Leachman the last two of her eight awards in 2002 and 2006. Kathryn Joosten won the guest actress Emmy twice -- in 2005 and 2008 -- for her role as the buddinsky Mrs. McCluskey on "Desperate Housewives," while Elaine Stritch won in 2007 for playing Alec Baldwin's big bad mama on "30 Rock."
White's career is red-hot, and she is also guesting on the May 19 finale of the freshman hit laffer "The Middle," as the less-than-kindly librarian who stands between Brick (Atticus Shaffer) and promotion to third grade. She is also featured in the TV Land sitcom "Hot in Cleveland," debuting this summer.
Photo: Betty White on the set of "SNL." Credit: NBC