Not one to claim she was just a “product of her time” when it came to race, Betty White went to bat for a talented tap dancer back in 1954. Despite attempts by others to keep Black dancer and singer Arthur Duncan off of her variety show, White decided to fight back by inviting him on every chance she could.
When networks and viewers in the South threatened to boycott “The Betty White Show” because of Duncan’s skin color, White said she replied: “I’m sorry, but, you know, he stays…Live with it.”
White died on Friday, just a few weeks shy of her 100th birthday, news that prompted a look back on a career that included advocacy on many fronts.
Arthur Duncan also confirmed the story in 2017 on Steve Harvey’s “Little Big Shots: Forever Young,” where he recalled: “I was on the show, and they had some letters out of Mississippi and elsewhere that some of the stations would not carry the show if I was permitted to stay on there. Well, Betty wrote back and said, ‘Needless to say, we used Arthur Duncan every opportunity we could.”
Betty White continued to invite Duncan on her show until it was canceled in 1954. – WTF Fun Facts