The Literary Club: Read a Betty White “Almost”

Welcome to a new Wildcard Wednesday! This week marks the 101st anniversary of the late Betty White’s birth. In honor of that sitcom legend, I want to take this post to share — with subscribers who comment below to alert me of their private, non-commercial interest — another rarity associated with White’s 80+ year TV career. It’s a script from one of the unsold pilots in which she starred — Stephanie (1981), an MTM multi-cam led by Stephanie Faracy, who had just come from the same company’s The Last Resort (1979-1980, CBS).

Stephanie was created by Alan Uger (Family Ties) and Mike Kagan (TV’s 9 To 5) as an homage to The Mary Tyler Moore Show, casting Faracy as the eponymous Stephanie, a recently hired reporter for a news magazine program based out of L.A. The rest of the ensemble consisted of her new colleagues, among them Green Acres’ Alvy Moore as a soundman, Jeannetta Arnette from Head Of The Class as a secretary, and Betty White as Stephanie’s tough boss Agnes — a role much closer to that of Sue Ann Nivens than Rose Nylund. Truthfully, there’s nothing here that you haven’t already seen before by way of character, but it’s amusing and clearly in the tradition of MTM’s flagship… As for White, although Stephanie didn’t get picked up, it came at a point in her life when she was looking for a distraction, as her beloved Allen Ludden was dying of cancer. He passed by the time this unsold CBS pilot made it to air — on September 08, 1981 — a forgotten chapter in her storied career… At any rate, here’s a sample of this script, on the cover of which White wrote: “This was an enjoyable experience — but didn’t sell as a series.”



Come back next week for a new Wildcard! And stay tuned Tuesday for more sitcom fun!

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