Legendary actress Betty White, America’s beloved “Golden Girl” and first lady of television, has died.
TMZ reported White passed away at her home on Friday at age 99, according to law enforcement sources. White was just weeks away from turning 100.
White was an entertainment icon, beloved by generations young and old for her comedic acting career which spanned more than eight decades.
Her talent and creativity have been considered timeless and remarkable, her characters memorable, as she has won the hearts of generation after generation with her wit, humor and authenticity.
White’s television career began in the late 1940s, and her popularity only continued to grow throughout the years. She famously acted on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” in the 1970s, “The Golden Girls,” which ran during the ’80s and ended in 1992, and “Hot in Cleveland” in 2010.
In addition to her television work, White was also a passionate animal rights activist, working with the Los Angeles Zoo and the Morris Animal Foundation for over 40 years.
Betty Marion White Ludden was born on Jan. 17, 1922, in Oak Park, Illinois. She relocated to Los Angeles with her parents at age 2, according to Biography.
White’s earliest work included appearances on a variety of talk shows, game shows and “Life with Elizabeth,” a television series that she produced, written by her colleague George Tibbles. Her work on “Life with Elizabeth” cemented White as one of the first women producers in Hollywood, predating even Lucille Ball.
Some of her most famous roles included Sue Ann Nivens from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” the hilariously naive Rose Nylund on the sitcom “The Golden Girls,” alongside co-stars Rue McClanahan, Bea Arthur and Estelle Getty, and more recently, a Snickers commercial that aired during the Superbowl in 2010.
Fans loved the Snickers commercial so much, they banded together on social media begging for White to be a guest host of Saturday Night Live. She eventually agreed and became the oldest person to host the famed show on May 8, 2010.
With younger generations now firmly attached to the beloved comedian, White launched the hidden camera show “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers,” in 2012. The show followed a group of senior citizens playing pranks on unsuspecting young people.
In 2018, PBS aired “Betty White: First Lady of Television,” telling the story of White’s life and career, including the many firsts that White brought to television.
“She was the first woman to produce a national TV show, the first woman to star in a sitcom, the first producer to hire a female director and the first woman to receive an Emmy nomination,” PBS wrote on its website.
White met her third husband, Allen Ludden, in 1961 during an appearance on the game show “Password.” They were married for 18 years before Ludden passed away from stomach cancer in 1981.
White never remarried, telling Anderson Cooper in 2011 that, “I had the love of my life. If you’ve had the best, who needs the rest?”
White’s 100th birthday celebration was to be held in January — a planned theatrical event that fans were invited to watch, which would have hosted other television and film celebrities including Ryan Reynolds, Carol Burnett and Jimmy Fallon.
“Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever,” White’s close friend and agent Jeff Witjas told People. “I will miss her terribly and so will the animal world that she loved so much. I don’t think Betty ever feared passing because she always wanted to be with her most beloved husband Allen Ludden. She believed she would be with him again.”
Betty White was truly one of a kind, a gift to us all, and will be dearly missed.
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