Betty White and Beyond: The 10 Most Memorable Saturday Night Live Hosts

In honor of the 10th anniversary of Betty White's iconic appearance in Studio 8H, a look back at the 10 most memorable SNL hosts over the years.

By Billy Nilles May 08, 2020 7:00 AMTags
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It's been 10 years since Betty White first took the stage in Studio 8H.

When she began enjoying a career resurgence in her late 80s thanks to a role in The Proposal and a particularly popular Snickers commercial, fans were shocked to discover that the comedy legend who'd been making audiences laugh practically since the TV was invented as the first woman to produce a sitcom (1953's Life of Elizabeth) and, later, with roles on the iconic sitcoms The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Golden Girls had never been asked to host Saturday Night Live

So, they set out to change that and launched a Facebook campaign called "Betty White to Host SNL (Please)," and as the group approach 500,000 members, Lorne Michaels and NBC confirmed that the legend would, in fact, finally host the show. And May 8, 2010, she—along with the help of a handful of returning SNL alums, including Rachel Dratch, Fey, Ana Gasteyer, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph and Molly Shannon—presided over the show's Mother's Day episode, making her the oldest person in SNL history to host at 88 years young.

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The episode was a massive success, proving that, even while pushing 90, Betty still had the razor-sharp comedy chops needed to go down as one of SNL's most memorable hosts. (The appearance also won her an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series that year—her seventh overall.)

In honor of the episode's 10th anniversary, we thought we'd look back at the 10 most memorable hosts in SNL history. Scroll on to see which nine other celebs joined Betty on the list!

NBC/E! Illustration
Tom Hanks

With 10 hosting gigs under his belt—including the show's first remotely-filmed episode back in April 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic—you know that when America's Dad is in Studio 8H, you're in for a wonderful time. Don't believe us? We have just three words for you: David. S. Pumpkins.

Jon Hamm

Hamm left audiences stunned with his considerable comedic chops when he hosted for the first time in 2008. He's has sinced follow up two more times and has had a handful of surprise cameos.

From his unforgettable "Jon Hamm's John Ham" sketch—you know, lunch meat you eat on the toilet—to his live-action Ace in an adaptation of the iconic Ambiguously Gay Duo animated sketch, he's ingratiated himself with cast in a way few other hosts ever have.

Melissa McCarthy

There is arguably no one on this planet more committed to their craft than the Bridesmaids legend. Case in point? The "Taste Test" sketch in her first at bat as host, back in 2011, when she covered herself in Hidden Valley ranch dressing for a gag.

In less than a decade, she's already joined the infamous Five-Timers Club, and even began making semi-regular appearances a particularly enraged Sean Spicer during his brief tenure in the Trump administration.

Justin Timberlake

Nearly every celeb on this list could've become a full-time cast member on SNL, easily. And for a time there, it seemed like JT actually might. From "Omletteville," "D--k in a Box," and "Barry Gibb Talk Show" to "Mother Lover," each of Timberlake's five appearances as host have made moments that permeated pop culture. And his appearance as one of Beyonce's "Single Ladies" back-up dancers alongside Bobby Moynihan and Andy Samberg? Amazing.

Steve Martin

There are few people who have hosted SNL more than the legendary comedian—in fact, there's only one—and in his 16 stints in Studio 8H between 1976 and 2009, he's created memorable characters (the "wild and crazy" Festrunk Brothers, King Tut) and delivered what would become one of the show's most heartfelt moments, honoring Gilda Radner's passing from cancer with a look back at a blissful dance the two shared through the studio.

Scarlett Johansson

Not only is ScarJo part of the SNL family thanks to her romance with Colin Jost, but the six-time host has created some indelible moments over the years since her debut in 2006.

She's been on hand for whenever the show needed someone to step into Ivanka Trump's shoes, appeared in the grotesque Shud the Mermaid sketch opposite Kate McKinnon and played Lexi (daughter to Fred Armisen's Mark) as the duo hawk chandeliers, ceramic busts, marble columns and porcelain fountains in the fan-favorite sketch.

Betty White

Unlike everyone else on this list, the late TV icon has only hosted SNL once. And, at 88 years old, she became the show's oldest host in its history. The appearance was made even more special because it was literally fan-demanded through a successful Facebook campaign after White's role  in The Proposal

She's also on this list because, well, she was also freaking hilarious. Our favorite sketch from the episode is this absurd one where Tina Fey's census taker tries, in vain, to get a straight answer out of White.

Dwayne Johnson

A member of the Five Timer's Club, Johnson earned his spot on this list the minute he agreed to do The Rock Obama. Enough said.

Alec Baldwin

With 17 official hosting gigs on his resume and countless appearances as former President Donald Trump, Baldwin may be the only star not officially on the payroll who is more closely associated with SNL.

From classics like Canteen Boy and Schweddy Balls to impressions of Tony Bennett and, yes, Trump, Baldwin has given fans so much during his many, many visits to Studio 8H.

Saturday Night Live wraps up season 45 with its third remotely produced episode airing Saturday, May 8 at 11:30 p.m. on NBC.

(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)