1. Little Betty White was born in 1922
Born on January 17, 1922, outside of Chicago, Illinois, Betty White moved to Los Angeles when she was just 2 years old. "My father, Horace, was a traveling salesman who moved our family to California during the Great Depression," White shared during her 2010 "Saturday Night Live" monologue.
2. She grew up in California with a famous friend
"I don't think California was a state at the time," Betty White once joked to Cleveland Magazine. "I think it was a territory or undiscovered land." It was 1924, and California had been official for 74 years when Betty White first set foot in the Golden State at the age of 2.
3. The actress landed an acting gig for radio as a kid
As the entire country was experiencing the greatest stock market crash on record, an astounding 3.2 million losing their jobs by 1930, a spunky 8-year-old Betty White booked her debut showbiz gig on the first broadcast media platform — the radio. The show was called "Empire Builders," and she played the role of an orphan.
4. Betty White planned on becoming a writer
Even though she grew up next to Hollywood's biggest studios, Betty White fostered her own unique passion. "I was never that conscious of the Hollywood stuff," she once shared in an "Intimate Portrait" special. "I was always gonna be a writer. I wrote the graduation play ... at Horace Mann Grammar School in Beverly Hills. And, of course, as any red-blooded American girl would do, I wrote myself into the lead. And the showbiz bug bit me!" Her debut script? "The Land of the Rising Sun," a Japanese theater-style play she wrote.
5. She landed a gig on TV
After studying to be an opera singer during high school in 1939 (via Rare), Betty White was tapped to sing "Spirit Flower" at her graduation from Beverly Hills High School. There, at just 17, she would be discovered by some folks who had been experimenting with TV cameras. She jumped at the chance.
6. She gave up her dreams for WWII
Just as the young Betty White's promising television career was beginning, the United States entered into World War II in 1941. White put her aspirations on hold, and joined American Women's Voluntary Services, as she told Cleveland Magazine in 2010. She wore a uniform and drove a supply truck up to the troop's temporary quarters in the Hollywood Hills.
7. Betty White married her war hero crush
After the war was over in 1945, 23-year-old Betty White married fast, and she drove to Ohio to live with her husband, pilot Dick Barker. "Oh, it was a nightmare," she remembered when speaking with People. She was a tried and true California girl at heart. And as much as she loved animals, she was a fish out of water on Barker's Midwest chicken farm.