The legendary actress, producer, animal rights activist and all-round lover Betty White died on Friday at the age of 99.
TV stars we lost in 2021
« Even though Betty was almost 100 years old, I thought she would live forever, » Jeff Witjas, White’s agent and friend, said in a statement to People on Friday. “I will miss her terribly and the wildlife that she loved so much. I don’t think Betty was ever afraid to die because she always wanted to be with her beloved husband, Allen Ludden. She thought she would be with him again. «
In this week’s People cover story, celebrating White’s upcoming centenary (she was scheduled to turn 100 on January 17th), the icon said, » Me am so happy to be in such good health and feel so good at this age. It’s wonderful. «
The Oak Park, Illinois native – best known for playing the mantra Sue Ann Nivens on the Mary Tyler Moore Show (1973-77) and sloppy Rose Nylund in The Golden Girls (1985 -92) – had her big break on the small screen in 1949 when she began hosting Al Jarvis’ live variety show Hollywood on Television, and was nominated for her first Primetime Emmy Award just two years later and co-founded her own Production company that a year later launched Life With Elizabeth, a syndicated comedy that featured one of its Hollywood characters on television.
Although White got into feature films in 1962 and in hit films such as Lake Placid (1999) and The Proposal (2009), she found her greatest hits on the small screen, often just by being herself. During nearly two decades of hosting the Tournament of Roses Parade, she was in both late-night t talk shows and game shows during the day – especially at Password, whose host Ludden she married in 1963.
After White in 1975 and ’76 consecutive Emmys for her portrayal of « The Happy Homemaker » in Mary After winning the Tyler Moore Show, she starred on her own sitcom, the short-lived Betty White Show, and began a 10-year stint hosting the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. In 1983, she became the first woman to win a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Game Show Host (for Just Men!)
When the Golden Girls ended their run in 1992, White joined the 1986 Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series had won and earned six other nominations for her work as the Sunny Rose – Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty on the short-lived spin on-from the Golden Palace. But whether or not she played a regular role, White never seemed to slow down. Between guest appearances on everything from The John Larroquette Show (which earned her another Emmy in 1993) to Bones (2015), she has tackled recurring roles in Boston Legal (2005-08) and The Bold and the Beautiful (2006) earned another Emmy for hosting Saturday Night Live (2010).
That same year, White turned a one-off appearance in the pilot of Hot in Cleveland into a five-year run as naughty Elka Ostrovsky. As if that weren’t enough, she also hosted and produced Betty Whites Off Their Rockers from 2012 to 2014, which enabled seniors to prank young whippersnappers, and received a Grammy for the spoken word recording of her bestseller. If you ask me (and of course not).
Her other awards include a Lifetime Achievement Award (presented at the Daytime Emmys 2015), a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (right next to Luddens), and Admission (from 2014) as the record holder in the Guinness World Records book for longest television career for an entertainer (female).
Throughout her life and career, White was – who had no children (but was the stepmother of Ludden’s three children from his first marriage ) – a staunch animal rights activist. In addition to being a sponsor of the Farm Animal Reform Movement and Friends of Animals, she wrote Betty White’s Pet-Love: How Pets Take Care of Us and donated all of the proceeds from her clothing line and 2011 calendar to animal charities.
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