Hundreds of people of all ages packed into Skokie’s Barnes & Noble bookstore for the chance to see Betty White on May 7.
The star of The Golden Girls and Hot in Cleveland signed copies of her newest book If You Ask Me: (And of Course You Won’t) for customers who had bought it at the store.
Keisha Smith, community relations manager for the Old Orchard Center store, said that the first person in line to see White arrived at 4 a.m. This was the actress's only signing in the Midwest and customers drove from all over for the event.
Customers received wristbands when the store opened at 9 a.m., which secured their spot in line at the signing, which ran from 2-3:30 p.m. The few people who were still in line when White left were given pre-signed copies of her book.
Barnes & Noble would not disclose how many people attend the store’s events.
“Her fans were great and they were so appreciative,” Smith said. “She was really pleased to see how many people were out for her. It was a terrific reception.”
Karen Domanski of Joliet arrived at 8:30 a.m. to get her wristband and spent her time getting to know other women in line. After they’d had their books signed, she and her new friends exchanged e-mail addresses so they could share pictures of White.
“We just love her,” Domanski said. “She’s just been an inspiration and just brings a smile to your face. She was very, very appreciative that everybody was here.”
Chicago resident Rita Catania had already bought and read the book, which came out May 3, but said that she purchased another copy so that she could see White. She came out with her granddaughter, who is also a fan of The Golden Girls.
“I follow whatever she does,” Catania said. “She’s amazing. I’ve never gone to a book signing. She’s the only one I would do this for. I hope she lives until 150.”
White exchanged a few words with everyone who presented her with a book.
“She’s just loveable,” said Ken Steben of Carol Stream. “I said, ‘God bless you for all your years of entertaining me’ and she said, ‘No, God bless you for supporting me.’ She’s just exactly what you see on TV – so gracious.”
The line snaked throughout the store from the front all along the balcony and down the stairs. People within sight of White were constantly snapping pictures and were allowed to linger a moment to take a photo after their books had been signed. Despite the crowds and high security, the atmosphere was genial.
“The Barnes & Noble people were phenomenal,” Steben said. “They were very accommodating and professional.”
Susan Healy of Chicago and Bonnie Byer of Skokie gave White a note with some pictures of their mother, who people often said resembled Betty White. Healy said White promised to read it on the plane.
“For years we’ve said, ‘I wish we could meet Betty White' and we finally did,” Byer said. “She’s a woman of all seasons.”