Review of Betty White’s “If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won’t)”

In her book, “If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won’t)”, Betty White says she is often mistaken for a comedienne. She has been asked to do stand-up comedy routines for charitable events. Betty stresses that she is an actor not a comedienne. She also explains how timing can affect humor; miss a beat, miss the laughter that follows a well-delivered line. She credits screen writers for giving her lines she can interpret enabling her to be a successful comedic actor. She may not be able to do stand-up comedy, but she sure can write it.

Betty’s book may not have you rolling on the floor laughing, but it will make you smile, and perhaps even chuckle out loud. She says she learned early in life how to be funny because her parents were thus. A younger audience may know White from her role in award winning show “Hot in Cleveland”. At eighty-nine years old, she has been in show business since the early 1950s when television was a new fledgling industry. She has performed in films, but her favored medium is still television acting.

“If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won’t)” is not an autobiography, yet readers will learn a bit about her life in the book’s short vignettes. The book is divided in sections, such as “Body and Mind”, “Hollywood Stories” and “Animal Kingdom”. Betty writes about a variety of topics in each section, such as friendships, awards, and aging. Each topic is followed by a photograph. As an example, when Betty writes about her mother in “On Reflection”, it is followed by a photo of her mother. All photographs are black and white, much like the first television shows where Betty’s career began. Some photos are newer, such as a shot of the cast of “Hot in Cleveland”‘ others much older, such as a much younger Betty cuddling with a dog.

Betty claims her favorite thing besides animals is writing. I say claims, because she obviously enjoys bringing characters to life through acting. Betty’s writing style is conversational as if her readers are friends sitting across a table, sharing a meal and chatting. I especially enjoyed reading about Betty’s adventures with animals, which includes a gorilla named Koko and beluga whales.

The 254 page book was published in 2011 by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, Penguin Group with a cover price of $25.95. It will make a great gift for baby boomers or half a million Facebook Betty White fans. You will have to read “If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won’t)” for the role those Facebook fans played in her life.

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