As one of film and TV’s most recognizable stars, there’s no question that Betty White is, well, a gay icon. She’s also been working with The Lifeline Program for several years. Since 1989, The Lifeline Program has been on the cutting edge of the growing life settlement industry. Founded in Cleveland, Ohio, The Lifeline Program began with a very simple mission—to assist terminally ill patients in selling their life insurance policies for immediate cash. The patients received money to pay medical bills and were able to live out their lives with dignity.
Lifeline co-founder Stephen Terrell grew up in the country without a lot of friends. Television (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family) filled a lot of his free time. He himself came out of the closet at the ripe age of 14, and garnered most of his support from gay hotlines like today’s Trevor Project. He tells us that finding the perfect spokesperson was easy! He immediately thought of Betty White.
“When I was a kid, you didn’t think it could get better,” says Terrell. “But it does. Having come out in the ‘70s, I didn’t have many role models to follow, so I had to go through a lot of painful years looking for me.” Terrell found his calling within the Lifeline Program. While the company was created as a financial option for people with AIDS in the ‘90s, today, after medical advances, HIV has become a more manageable condition as opposed to a terminal sentence. The Lifeline Program has restructured its services for seniors, offering them financial freedom in their golden years.
This past week, Terrell and The Lifeline Program released a promotional video with Betty White and Luciana. The iconic role of Sue Ann that White played on The Mary Tyler Moore Show may have prepared her for her collaboration on “I’m Still Hot.” White says, “Sue Ann would definitely say she was still hot. She was one of the first hot girls on television. It’s a great song, and we’re so glad that Luciana and Sony let us use it. I don’t know if I’m still hot, but Luciana sure is, though I wasn’t so happy with how skinny she is—I kept trying to feed her a sandwich! We had a wonderful time on the set, and the song is catchy and fun.”
Terrell adds, “Betty is ‘White Hot.’ She’s still hot to me and most of the country, with a whole new fanbase of kids enjoying her warmth and humor. At 89 and up for another Emmy, with 64 years in the business—that’s hot! For our company, I want to show seniors and baby boomers that age is just a number and you can still be hot.”
Betty, what was it like working with Luciana and those hunky men on set?
Seeing all those hunky men and Luciana, I knew there wouldn’t be a line at the craft services table. They were all so fit. One of the lines in the song is about cheesecake, and we had plenty of it on the set, so I fed cheesecake to my Beefcake!
Why do you think candidates should choose to use The Lifeline Program?
The boys at Lifeline really care about people and helping them pay for retirement. I’m lucky, because I don’t really worry about retirement. As long as I keep getting a chance to work, I’m going to show up on the set—and I might show up even if they don’t ask me. I have learned that The Lifeline Program really cares about people. Even though a life settlement helps people financially, I know that Steve Terrell and the Lifeline Program family really care about helping people who need money for retirement.
Is there any advice you would give to Luciana on having longevity in the entertainment industry?
I would tell her to always be professional—learn your lines, be on time and respect the business. But I would also say that she should always continue to have fun, which she does—and for goodness sake, eat something!
Why do you think the LGBT community embraces and loves you so much?
Throughout my career, I’ve always portrayed characters that were humorous, but also weren’t afraid to speak their minds, especially when it came to racy or controversial topics. I think this struck a chord with the LGBT community. We both also share a very strong love for animals. When you combine the two, it’s a very strong match.
How do you keep your energy up and your body so fit?
Well, I’m certainly not built like those boys in the video or as skinny as Luciana, but I have always tried to stay fit, get my rest and eat right. Everything is OK in moderation, and I have also been blessed with good genes.
The world-premiere of Luciana and Betty White’s “I’m Still Hot” will take place online at 7 p.m. PDT, Oct. 11—the same time it debuts at The Abbey in West Hollywood. The final version will be available for purchase on iTunes, and a large portion of the proceeds will benefit the Los Angeles Zoo. Visit thelifeline.com for more on The Lifeline Program, downloads and Betty White clips.