Beloved Golden Girls star Betty White has passed away at the age of 99, just three weeks before her milestone 100th birthday.
White, who capped a career of more than 80 years by becoming America’s geriatric sweetheart after Emmy-winning roles on television sitcoms, is said to have passed away of natural causes at her home on Friday morning, law enforcement confirmed.
She was not battling an particular ailments and did not have a sudden illness, a source close to the star told TMZ.
In fact, just a few days ago – in an interview about her upcoming centennial year – White said she was ‘so lucky to be in such good health and feel so good at this age’.
She leaves behind a massive legacy as a comedienne, actress, author, animal rights activist and one of the first female pioneers in television.
‘Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever,’ her agent and close friend Jeff Witjas said in a statement issued to 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.’
RIP: Betty White dies at 99: Legendary actress passes away just weeks before her milestone 100th birthday
White had been limiting contact with others to avoid contracting the coronavirus. Last year, when the virus first surged, she said she was ‘relaxing through her quarantine’ at her residence in Los Angeles.
The star’s essential errands, like groceries, were being taken care of for her so she wouldn’t have to leave her house. Additionally, she was ‘only coming in contact with people being equally cautious of the virus’ and respected her state’s stay-at-home orders.
Betty White poses in a publicity portrait for her part in The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She wrote in her autobiography: ”For me, humor is about rhythm. It’s like an ear for music. It’s hard to explain’
White was born in Oak Park, Illinois on January 17, 1922. Her legal name, ‘Betty’ is not a shortened version of ‘Elizabeth’ because her parents did not want their daughter saddled by any derivatives and nicknames like Beth, Liza and Ellie.
She started her entertainment career in radio in the late 1930s and by 1939 had made her TV debut singing on an experimental channel in Los Angeles. After serving in the American Women’s Voluntary Service, which helped the U.S. effort during World War Two, she was a regular on Hollywood on Television, a daily five-hour live variety show, in 1949.
A few years later she became a pioneering woman in television by co-founding a production company and serving as a co-creator, producer and star of the 1950s sitcom Life With Elizabeth.
Through the 1960s and early ’70s White was seen regularly on television, hosting coverage of the annual Tournament of Rose Parade and appearing on game shows such as Match Game and Password. She married Password host Allen Ludden, her third and final husband, in 1963.
White reached a new level of success on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, playing the host of a home-making television show, the snide, lusty Sue Ann Nivens, whose credo was ‘a woman who does a good job in the kitchen is sure to reap her rewards in other parts of the house.’ White won best-supporting actress Emmys for the role in 1975 and 1976.
She won another Emmy in 1986 for The Golden Girls, a sitcom about four older women living together in Miami that featured an age demographic rarely highlighted on American television.
White also was nominated for an Emmy six other times for her portrayal of the widowed Rose Nylund, a sweet, naive and ditzy Midwesterner, on the show, which ran from 1985 to 1992 and was one of the top-rated series of its time.
She started her entertainment career in radio in the late 1930s and by 1939 had made her TV debut singing on an experimental channel in Los Angeles
She won another Emmy in 1986 for The Golden Girls, a sitcom about four older women living together in Miami that featured an age demographic rarely highlighted on American television (Pictured: Rue Mcclanahan, Estelle Getty, Betty White, Bea Arthur)
After a less successful sequel to The Golden Girls came a series of small movie parts, talk-show appearances and one-off television roles, including one that won her an Emmy for a guest appearance on The John Larroquette Show.
By 2009 she was becoming ubiquitous with more frequent television appearances and a role in the Sandra Bullock film The Proposal. She starred in a popular Snickers candy commercial that aired during the Super Bowl, taking a brutal hit in a mud puddle in a football game.
A young fan started a Facebook campaign to have White host ‘Saturday Night Live’ and she ended up appearing in every sketch on the show and winning still another Emmy for it.
The Associated Press voted her entertainer of the year in 2010 and a 2011 Reuters/Ipsos poll found that White, then 89, was the most popular and trusted celebrity in America with an 86 percent favorability rating.
White’s witty and brassy demeanor came in handy as host of ‘Betty White’s Off Their Rockers,’ a hidden-camera show in which elderly actors pulled pranks on younger people.
‘Who would ever dream that I would not only be this healthy, but still be invited to work?’ White said in a 2015 interview with Oprah Winfrey.
‘That’s the privilege … to still have jobs to do is such a privilege.’
White, who had no children, worked for animal causes. She once turned down a role in the movie As Good as It Gets because of a scene in which a dog was thrown in a garbage chute.