Jan 17 She may be the last of TV's "Golden
Girls," but the ubiquitous Betty White came in first in a
recent survey asking nearly 2,000 retired and soon-to-retire
Americans to choose a role model from a selection of prominent
White, who turns 90 today, is the oldest of the celebrities
presented to the study group under the heading of whom they
would most like to emulate in retirement. She is one of the
busiest, starring in the TV Land series "Hot in Cleveland,"
readying a new hidden-camera reality show featuring seniors
called "Betty White's Off Their Rockers," and being feted by
NBC in a 90th birthday tribute on January 16, which is why,
according to her press agent, she was too busy to comment on
the results of the Hartford-MIT AgeLab study.
The Age of Opportunity study
(link.reuters.com/kuw95s) was conducted by GfK Roper for
The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. - an insurance and
wealth management firm - and the MIT AgeLab, a think tank of
researchers, business partners, universities and the aging
The 1,964 respondents contacted by random telephone calls,
were men and women over 45 who had retired in the past two
years or planned to retire in the next two to 10 years and
further divided them by total household investable assets below
or above $250,000.
White garnered the highest percentage of votes from each
category of respondents. Her competition - in order of
popularity - consisted of former President Jimmy Carter;
domestic guru Martha Stewart; Oscar-winning actress Helen
Mirren; rock legend Steven Tyler; author and former General
Electric CEO Jack Welch and boxer-turned-entrepreneur George
Why Ms. White? "Because she knows how to laugh," the
The choice of White is ironic, considering that 42 percent
of current retirees wished they could have retired earlier and
35 percent of those approaching retirement wished they were
The study respondents also had specific reasons for ranking
the other celebrities.
- Jimmy Carter, 87 - "because he is a great
- Martha Stewart, 70 - "because she is strong and
- Helen Mirren, 65 - "because she's fit and fabulous."
- Steven Tyler, 63 - "because he's a free spirit."
- Jack Welch, 76 - "because he is a born leader."
- George Foreman, 63 - "because he is entrepreneurial."
Other than wishing for an earlier opportunity to retire,
the study respondents were basically positive about their
future. But they did identify health and medical issues as
their greatest concern for the years ahead. If they could have
changed one aspect of their preparation, a third of retirees
said they would have saved more money, but 13 percent wished
they had paid more attention to the importance of health
issues. Moreover, the vast majority wanted to live "as long as
I am healthy," but a very small percentage said they would
prefer to live as long as their money lasts.
The survey also emphasized what it calls the
independent-mindedness of Americans of both groups who said
they did or planned to follow their own path. No surprise then
that asked to name the song they'd cite to describe the
retirement they have in mind, both groups most often chose the
Frank Sinatra classic: "(I Did It) My Way."
The author is a Reuters contributor. The opinions
expressed are her own.
(Editing by Lauren Young and Beth Pinsker Gladstone)
(Beth.firstname.lastname@example.org; +1 646 223 7289))