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Betty's Corner

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Coventry woman's essay wins meeting with star


Leslie Scott is flown to Los Angeles, spends time with Betty White

"It started with the limo picking me up at my house," said Leslie Scott of Coventry, who won a trip to Los Angeles to meet Betty White.

Scott enjoyed door-to-door limo service, a round-trip flight to Los Angeles, two nights in a four-star hotel overlooking Beverly Hills and a morning zipping around the Los Angeles Zoo in a golf cart with the star of "Golden Girls," "Hot in Cleveland" and "Betty White's Off Their Rockers."

"You wouldn't believe how many people love Betty White," said Scott, who won an essay contest on why meeting the 90-year-old actress was on her bucket list.

"She was somebody I admired and loved and watched for years," Scott said Thursday. "She's just a real person, a genuine per son."

Scott flew out of T.F. Green Monday, had her moment in the White light Tuesday and returned late Wednesday evening.

Between 700 and 800 people entered the contest, Scott said. It was sponsored by Lifeline Programs, a company that buys future life insurance settlements and which Scott describes as the insurance version of a reverse mortgage or "cashing in life insurance to live on."

Scott saw the contest on the company's Facebook page, which she joined because Betty White is their celebrity blogger.

Photos of Scott and White at the zoo, where a truckload of snowmaking machines produced a temporary snowfall for the company event called the "Betty White Out," are posted at facebook.com/LifelineProgram.

Scott said she thought about how she would greet the actress. "I wanted to say something that would mean something to her," she said. "I thought, 'This is a woman who changed her name from Betty White to Betty White Ludden' " after marrying Allen Ludden, the host of "Password," in 1963.

After going separately to hair and makeup, Scott said, both women were seated in the golf cart. They hugged. "I said, 'Mrs. Ludden, I presume?' She smiled."

Their tour of the zoo with company dignitaries stopped briefly at a donor brick inscribed "Mr. and Mrs. A. Ludden."

"I think she's seen it before," Scott said.

Manmade snow was falling for their news conference. Before taking the microphone, the actress turned to Scott and said: " 'Just tell me, what was your last name? I want to get this right.'

"She talked about the contest, then said, 'I'd like to introduce to you our winner, Leslie Scott from Rhode Island.'

"I came out," and even though she was wearing pants, "I did a little curtsy," Scott recounted.

"I was perfectly cognizant of the fact that Betty White was the drawing card," she said, figuring that as far as the media was concerned, "I was part of the furniture.

"I was cool with it."

For the event, a black bear enclosure had a layer of snow and a snowman covered with fresh fruits. From the viewing area, Scott and White made snowballs and tossed them near the bear to get his attention. "He was so busy noshing on the food," Scott said, "he wasn't being photogenic."

She and Betty White then "had a private tour of part of the zoo. At about 10:30, she had to go to the set of 'Hot in Cleveland.' "

"It was just a terrific experience," Scott said. "She was such a nice person. There was one point where we're sitting on the golf cart, and she has one hand just touching the tips of my fingers." What that communicated, Scott said, was "In a way, she was glad I was there."

Her perspective on her Betty White experience is this:

"We met for a couple of hours on a Tuesday in December and threw snowballs together. But it's not like a permanent relationship." dnaylor@providencejournal.com

(401) 277-7411

The winning essay, by Leslie Scott:

"I have admired Betty White for years - regardless of the part she has played, she has always been interesting (and fun) to watch.

"Since my own personal bucket list has been completed (only two items on it - went to Egypt in 1980, and appeared on Jeopardy! in 2007), I look forward to adding other items to an extended list. Since Betty White is the last remaining Golden Girl, I'd love to meet her and let her know how much enjoyment she has provided me over the years - both on situation comedies and on the game shows. Her love of animals is close to my heart, as I am the proud owner (?) of four cats.

"In any case, I hope Ms. White will be with us for many more years.

"Thank you."

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