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Posted at 10:54 AM ET, 05/14/2010

Friday List: More candidates for a Betty White-style career revival

By Liz Kelly and Jen Chaney

Hollywood likes a remake, so it's no surprise that Betty White is the latest thing to -- again -- take the entertainment world by storm.

But surely White -- the 88-year-old sensation who utterly burned up the small screen when she hosted "SNL" last weekend -- isn't the only card-carrying AARP member worthy of a later-in-life career revival. In fact, another grassroots Facebook campaign is already underway in support of another comic legend taking the "SNL" stage: Carol Burnett.

With that in mind, we started thinking about more elder statesmen -- and women -- of stage and screen who could totally mount successful returns to an entertainment landscape awash in whippersnappers. We've listed five candidates below and ask that you return the favor by sharing more nominees in the comments section.

Don Rickles in 2007. (Los Angeles Times)

Don Rickles: If it's funny we're after, this king of comedy -- now 84 -- is still making the talk show rounds and already has the respect and love of the stand-up community in his back pocket. We'd like to see him turn up on "SNL" to show monologue duds like Taylor Lautner how it's done.

Robert Redford: Who says you have to be funny to make a comeback? While Redford continues to work behind the scenes as a director and the mastermind behind the Sundance Film Festival, we haven't seen the now 73-year-old actor in a really meaty role since he played a gazillionaire hot for Demi Moore in 1993's "Indecent Proposal." (And, no, "Lion for Lambs" and "An Unfinished Life" do not count.) Maybe the thriller "The Company You Keep," or that long-gestating possibility of starring in "A Walk in the Woods" -- which, sadly, was originally envisioned as an opportunity to reteam Redford with Paul Newman -- will be just the ticket, if he can find a "Woods" foil as good as Newman surely would have been.

Bob Newhart: The man does deadpan like nobody's business. Why not give the 80-year-old TV vet an HBO show -- a la Larry David's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" -- so we can finally see him open up his high-brow humor to an adult audience? (Hint to Bob: A good first step might be to actually write your own Tweets.)

Phyllis Diller: Okay, so asking a 92-year-old to devote the time to a career comeback may be pushing it a bit. But we're convinced this groundbreaking comedienne -- who did the whole plastic surgery thing decades before Heidi Montag and has lended her voice to "Family Guy" in recent years -- could still give more frequent, good cameo. Maybe "30 Rock" -- which has become something of a haven for female comedy stars of yesteryear -- could feature her as say Liz Lemon's raunchy aunt?

Julie Andrews: Our beloved "Sound of Music" Maria famously lost her vocal powers after a botched surgery, a fact that recently cast a pall over an attempted comeback concert in the UK. But we think this 74-year-old Dame -- whose voice will be heard in upcoming animated features "Shrek Forever After" and "Despicable Me" -- still has the potential to spearhead a new Julie Renaissance. As a starting point, why not cast her in a multi-episode run on "Glee," as a vocal coach who has lost her singing power but still has the ability to mold the pipes of young Rachel and Puck and, occasionally, show off a shocking potty mouth? The revered and regal Andrews as a sassy mentor who gives Sue Sylvester a run for her sarcastic money -- that would be something to see.

Now it's your turn. Share your nominees for Betty White-level appreciation below...

By Liz Kelly and Jen Chaney  | May 14, 2010; 10:54 AM ET
Categories:  Friday Lists, Pop Culture  | Tags:  Betty White, Friday List, Pop Culture  
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Dick Cavett.

Nuff said.

Posted by: bcastner | May 14, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

I'm OK with most of your picks, even Rickles, but Phyllis Diller? Sometimes it's better to let sleeping dogs lie.

I was going to say Carl Reiner, but found out he was in Oceans 13, so it wouldn't exactly be a comeback. Any surviving Sid Caesar writer would be good.

Ahnuld will be out of a job shortly. He was pretty funny in Arizon. ("I vas afraid mit my ahccent they were going send me bach to Owstria..."

Posted by: reddragon1 | May 14, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Don't knock Phyllis Diller until you see her in "The Aristocrats." I think that is a great choice. David Brenner, who also told a great Aristocrats joke, would be on my list.

Charles Grodin needs a comeback, too. Has he done anything since his talk show ended?

Posted by: dstu | May 14, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Angela Lansbury.

Posted by: themegnapkin | May 14, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Roman Polanski.

Posted by: kabuki3 | May 14, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | May 14, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

I don't want to take credit for this since someone named him it the chat yesterday, Tim Conway would be a great candidate along with Carol Burnett.

Posted by: jes11 | May 14, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

That Julie-Andrews-on-Glee idea is inspired!

Am I the only one who didn't like how SNL used Betty White's talents? They couldn't write worth a darn for her -- all age jokes and inappropriate-talk-by-old-lady jokes. What a snoozer. She deserved better.

Posted by: SilverSpringer1 | May 14, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

I would love to see William Shatner host SNL. I think he is in his seventies?

Posted by: cjbriggs | May 14, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

James Earl Jones?

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | May 14, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Briggs, Shatner hosted SNL way back near the beginning. He alientated many Trekkies when, in a skit, he told Trekkies to "Get a life."

That said, I think it would be excellent to bring him back, perhaps in some parody of his role as the Priceline Negotiator.

I don't know if Mel Brooks would be up for a hosting gig, but I think it would be an interesting idea.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | May 14, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Sas, Brooks was one of the guys I was thinking of when I mentioned "Sid Caesar writers..."

Posted by: reddragon1 | May 14, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Tim Conway

ditto on Shatner

Peter O'Toole

Sid Caesar (he kind of invented tv comedy)

Mel Brooks

Gene Wilder

The surviving original SNL cast

Posted by: dablues1 | May 14, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Ruth Buzzi !!

Posted by: EdSantaFe | May 14, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

EdSantaFe, Great idea!!! How about a "Laugh-In" reunion? I believe Joanne Worley, Judy ("sock-it-to-me") Carne and Arte Johnson are all still active too, as well as Lily Tomlin, of course. Presumably Goldie Hawn considers herself too big a star for such shenanigans, though...

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | May 14, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Linda Ellerbee (for those who recall SNL's first season).

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | May 14, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

i agree with Carol Burnett she hasn't been as funny since she got her chin implant in the 80's, she wanted to feel rain on her chin (no jokes), what about Diana Canova from Soap? She was on Throb with Jane Leeves who's in Hot in Cleveland with Betty White. Steven Weber from Wings?

Posted by: rufkd | May 14, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

How about letting Don Pardo host SNL just once?

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | May 14, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

rufkd, did you know that Diana Canova was Judy Canova's daughter?

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | May 14, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Surviving cast members of "Barney Miller"? Hal Linden sings, plays clarinet.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | May 14, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Nosy_Parker -- what an ff-ing great idea!

Don Pardo -- who's been in the background (except for a few years in Laugh-In, iirc?) for a gazillion years! Almost literally!

Posted by: ADCWonk | May 14, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

ADCWonk, I think there was one SNL where Pardo came onstage, but I can't recall which one. Where's Shales when we REALLY need him?

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | May 14, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

ADCWonk, Gary Owens was the regular "Laugh In" announcer, also appeared on-screen. Can't recall if NBC ever used Pardo on that show.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | May 14, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Ok, I'm trying to submit the name (3 words ) of the guy who played Mary Tyler Moore's husband . Apparently changing the first name to the longer form of Richard, did not help with the censors. Apparently they have a problem with his last name too. Sheesh!

Posted by: hodie2 | May 14, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

How's this, hodie: Richard Van Dyck?

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | May 14, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Has Sean Connery ever hosted SNL? Or maybe he wouldn't cotton to James Bond parodies, or that game-show with the Connery impression.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | May 14, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Re Betty White: Instead of lobbying for her to host the Oscars, wouldn't it be more logical for her to co-host the Emmys with Jimmy Fallon? (Or is his ego a lot larger than his height?)

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | May 14, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Life sure would be boring these days if it wasn't for Turner Classic Movies, TVland, Andy Griffith, Boomerang, and RetroTV.

Posted by: hared | May 14, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

I love Fyvush Finkel!

rufkd - Steven Weber has something of a recurring role on "In Plain Sight".

Posted by: JLRGG | May 15, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Gene Hackman

Posted by: Roxie1 | May 17, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

My choice is MOLLY RINGWALD as HOSTESS & the BEST comeback in decades, DEVO as MUSICAL GUESTS. Brand new material after 20 years! Join us on FACEBOOK...!/pages/Wants-Molly-Ringwald-to-host-Saturday-Night-Live/122362547785268?ref=ts

Posted by: d_gerard_777 | May 17, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

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