Betty White turned 92 years old on Friday and while her television career has spanned seven decades, it's the seven years she spent playing simple-minded but lovable Rose Nylund on the hit series "The Golden Girls" – the '80s sitcom about four older women navigating life and love while living together in Miami – that we remember most. Between Rose's romances; her friendships with her roommates Sofia, Dorothy, and Blanche; her endless arsenal of St. Olaf stories; and lots of cheesecake, we learned a lot about, well, everything. Here are six long-lasting lessons Rose taught us.
Never change for a guy: Rose is giddy when she meets her soon-to-be serious boyfriend Miles, a college professor. She's falling in love, but Miles and his intellectual, bookish friends intimidate her. Worried that she's not smart enough for him, Rose backs out of their date one night, convincing Blanche to take her place. After learning that Miles had a miserable time without her, Rose bares her insecurities about the relationship. "You're a teacher. You think for a living," she tells him. But Miles is determined they should be together. "You're very special Rose," he says. "I'm just lucky I'm smart enough to see it." Aww.
Beauty is on the inside: When Rose starts secretly dating a psychiatrist named Dr. Jonathan Newman, who happens to be a little person, the girls beg to meet him, but Rose refuses because she's embarrassed about his small stature. However, when Rose suspects that Jonathan is planning to propose, she grapples with whether or not she could overcome her superficiality. In the end, Rose's anxiety was all for naught because Jonathan dumps her for not being Jewish and Rose learns to accept people for who they are, looks (and height) aside.
You're stronger than you think: After the roomies' home is burglarized one night, Rose is so traumatized that she buys a gun for protection, a decision that proves to be a questionable one after she nearly shoots Blanche's date when she mistakes him for an intruder. Soon after, while walking through a parking lot, she suspects a man is following her. Suddenly abandoning her fear, she dropkicks the guy (turns out, he was the parking attendant, oh well), which makes her realize the power of her own strength. "I can take care of myself!" she exclaims.
You can't succeed without failing: Rose becomes bored with her job as an assistant at the local news station so she applies for a higher position as a weekend news reporter, despite having no on-camera experience. She's given a trial assignment to cover Miami's 13th annual dog show, a job she takes very seriously — perhaps too seriously. During the show, a man with a gun and a ski mask holds Dorothy and Sophia hostage but Rose, ever the professional, is determined to get the story, reporting on the dog show, despite the chaos around her. "I'm a reporter, damn it. They sent me to cover a story and that's what I did," she says. Unsurprisingly, Rose doesn't get the job, but she did learn the importance of a strong work ethic.
Some problems just can't be fixed: Rose is disappointed when her little sister (who she doesn't like) announces that she's coming to Miami on business. Holly charms Rose's roommates, but excludes Rose from their activities. Rose tries to convince the girls that her sister isn't as nice as she seems, but they chalk up her gripes to sibling rivalry. It's only when Rose catches Holly kissing Blanche's boyfriend that Holly's true colors are revealed. Rose finally confronts her sister: "Just because we're sisters, doesn't mean we have to be friends," she says. And she learns that families aren't always so perfect.
There's nothing that a St. Olaf story (and a slice of cheesecake) can't fix: When she's happy, sad, or simply nostalgic, Rose's long-winded tales of yore from her hometown of St. Olaf are the best. Whether she's recounting the town's festival of the dancing virgins, how her pig Lester always predicted the best supporting actor Oscar winner, or the cashier at Lars Ericson Drug Store and Tackle Shop who would inappropriately hand over explicit scoops of ice cream, her stories were always a hit. More cheesecake, please!