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Betty White refused to fire Black dancer from her show in 1954: "I'm sorry, but, you know, he stays"

Betty White refused to fire Black dancer from her show in 1954: "I'm sorry, but, you know, he stays"

When someone encouraged White to remove him from the show because of his skin color, she politely declined.

At a time when racial segregation was at its peak, Betty White reportedly refused to comply with attempts to keep a Black dancer from performing in her show. Arthur Duncan was the dancer who was featured on The Betty White Show which aired in the 1950s.

When someone encouraged White to remove him from the show because of his skin color, she politely declined. "I'm sorry, but, you know, he stays," said the late actress according to USA Today. The veteran artist passed away at her home just a few weeks before her 100th birthday.

"I truly never thought she was going to pass away," said her longtime agent and friend confirming her death according to AP News. "She meant the world to me as a friend. She was the most positive person I’ve ever known." The news of her demise prompted people to look back on her lustrous career, which included her advocacy on various fronts.



 

In 2017, Duncan appeared on Steve Harvey's Little Big Shots: Forever Young premiere and told the host that White actually gave him his first job on television. "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," shared the then 83-year-old. "Well, Betty wrote back and said, 'Needless to say, we used Arthur Duncan every opportunity we could.'"

Despite continued pressure from stations in the South to remove Duncan, White continued to resist and used him on the show more until the show was ultimately canceled in 1954. The same year, the U.S. Supreme Court declared segregation in public schools unconstitutional.

As for Duncan, he went on to enjoy a fruitful career in show biz after becoming popular for being the first Black performer on The Lawrence Welk Show, as per The Library of Congress. Having had an amazing experience with White decades ago he was reunited with her 60 years later on Little Big Shots: Forever Young to his surprise. 

The meeting was was everything for Duncan who said he had seen everything he needed to see in his life after his meeting with White. When Harvey asked him how he felt about seeing her after so long, he joked, "God, I think I am ready to go now." But the end, he wanted a chance to catch up with White. "I hope we have a chance to visit after this is over," he said, to which the star responded, "Oh, I hope so. You never call. You never ask me out."

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