In an exclusive interview with Closer Weekly, Betty White’s best friend Tom Sullivan shares warm memories of their longtime bond in honor of the star’s 95th birthday.

Their friendship began back in the 70s at a piano bar in Cape Cod, MA, where Tom was playing piano over college break and had gotten to know Betty and her husband Allen Ludden.

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One night, Tom, who is blind, was hitting on a female patron but was interrupted by Betty. “Betty said, ‘Young lady, he’s full of crap!’” Tom tells Closer. “She grabbed me by the arm and dragged me across the room,” plopping him in front of another girl she wanted him to meet.

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Betty and Tom in March 2005. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Forty-seven years later, Tom’s still happily married with children to Patty Steffen, the girl Betty chose for him that night. “There’s so much of our lives that we owe to Betty,” Tom, 69, says.

“When my mother died,” he adds of their unique and unbreakable bond, “Betty said, ‘As far as I’m concerned, I’m your mom now.’”

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“The amazing thing about her is she’s always thought of herself as an ensemble player, a character actress,” Tom says. “She never thought of herself as a star.”

For Tom and his family, that’s certainly not the case. “We’ve been so blessed to know her,” he tells Closer.

For more on this exclusive interview, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands tomorrow!