Betty White, the actress whose charm and deadpan comic delivery gave her an eight-decade career and the title of America’s most trusted celebrity, is dead.
She was 99 and was to turn 100 on January 17th.
White’s death was confirmed by her agent to the Associated Press.
Certified by Guinness World Records like having the longest career of any female TV entertainer, White got his start in showbiz sometime in 1939 on a TV show, dancing in his graduation attire from high school. But over the ensuing decades, White loved himself for generations with a number of memorable roles, including in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (1973-1977), “The Golden Girls” (1985-1992) and “Hot in Cleveland” (2010-2015).
As GIFs of Golden Girls one-liners spread across the Internet via social media, and White’s fame seemed to increase even more in the waning years of her ninth decade, she spoke to People magazine ahead of her 100th anniversary and shared her secret behind longevity: “I try to avoid something green,” she joked. “I think it works.”
White seemed to embrace her viral fame when the internet claimed her as one of her favorite celebrities. Know this meme, the meme database, contains several entries with White, including healthy memes showing the actress unable to play with lego after her 99th birthday,
Born Betty Marion White on January 17, 1922 in Oak Park, Illinois, the future television star was the only child of an electrical engineering father and stay-at-home mom. The family moved much closer to the center of the entertainment industry, Los Angeles, two years later.
White started in television as an assistant, but she worked her way up to become one of the first female producers in the industry in 1952 with her sitcom “Life With Elizabeth”, developed alongside George Tibbles.
“George wanted to drive me to the studio, and we talked about what we were going to do, ad lib some things,” White told The Hollywood Reporter in 2010. “He wanted to write the script and we wanted to film it. When he drove me home, we were talking about next week’s show.”
The year before the show premiered, she earned first of her 21 Primetime Emmy Award nominations (she would win five) on her way to becoming a fixture on television as both a guest star and a regular man on the game show circuit.
White also co-hosted NBC’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from 1963 to 1972, before joining “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” in 1973 and gaining more widespread acclaim.
But White undoubtedly became best known much later in life for his fast-paced one-liners as the gullible, yet lovable Rose Nylund on “The Golden Girls,” which aired on NBC from 1985 to 1992. White starred alongside Bea Arthur , Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty, who were all younger than her but who all survived.
The role proved so popular that White repeated it for three other shows – “The Golden Palace”, “Empty Nest” and “Nurses” – and played a number of similar characters in other shows.
White married three times and said her only regret over her third husband, game host Allen Ludden, whom she married in 1963, was that she did not marry him before. NBC’s “TODAY” show reported in 2015.
She never remarried after he died of stomach cancer in 1981.
White was an avid animal activist and worked with the Morris Animal Foundation and Los Angeles Zoo for more than 40 years.
“I have to keep shopping so I can afford to keep doing my charity work,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “I’m actually the luckiest old broad alive. Half of my life is working in a profession I love, and the other half is working with animals. I couldn’t ask for more.”
Her passion for the cause was so great that she thanked as famously no to a role in the 1997 film “As Good as It Gets” because there was a scene where a dog was abused.
Not that she was in pain because of the work: White remained lively astute until her death, with a vicious sense of humor that exceeded her age. She went on to appear in TV series – such as “Hot in Cleveland,” “Bones” and “Community” – and occasional movies, such as 2009’s “The Proposal,” later in her life.
After a successful Facebook campaign, White became it oldest person to host “Saturday Night Live” at the age of 88 in 2010.
white won eight Emmys in total (including prices in prime time and daytime hours) and a Grammy Award for best spoken word album for “If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won’t).” She was also honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame – not true next to Luddens.
Over the course of her long career, White remained relevant by doing what she is best at: never missing a chance to deliver a good punchline.
“Someone said something the other day about ‘the first lady of television’.” she said during her speech at the Emmy Awards 2018. “And I took that as a big compliment.”
“And then I heard her talk to her daughter a little later, she said, ‘First lady, yes, she’s that old. She was the first, way back,'” White said. “But a little bit back then, I dreamed I would be here.”