Betty White Dies at 99

The beloved comedic actress, author, and animal lover passed on New Year’s Eve.

Betty White with costars of Hot in Cleveland

Betty White, the American comedy legend adored by millions, died Friday, December 31 at her Los Angeles home at age 99. She would have turned 100 on January 17, 2022.

White was in good health recently, according to reports. In interviews, she chalked her longevity up to keeping busy, maintaining an optimistic outlook, and treating herself; the actress was a well-known junk-food lover.

“I’m blessed with incredibly good health,” White told Closer Weekly magazine in 2020. “That’s something you appreciate a lot.”

White’s accomplishments

Betty Marion White Ludden was born in 1922 in Oak Park, Illinois. Her family moved to Los Angeles shortly thereafter. White attended school in Beverly Hills and graduated in 1939, the same year she first appeared on television.

After taking a few years for World War II voluntary service, White scored her first big TV gig starring on and producing the sitcom Life with Elizabeth, which ran from 1952 to 1955. In 1973, she landed the role of snarky, hypersexual homemaking-show host Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, for which she won a pair of Emmys.

Throughout the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, White appeared in numerous other TV series and specials. She was a mainstay on game shows, too, including Match Game, What’s My Line? and Password, where she met her third husband, host Allen Ludden.

In 1985, White took on her best-known role: Rose Nylund, the naïve, St. Olaf, Minnesota native on The Golden Girls. The sitcom, which centered on four older women living together in Miami, ran for seven years and won Emmys for each of its stars: White, Rue McClanahan, Bea Arthur, and Estelle Getty.

White kept busy after her Golden Girls success with TV and movie work. In 2010, at age 88, she started a late-in-life career hot streak, appearing in a Snickers commercial during Super Bowl XLIV. By May, a Facebook campaign helped her become Saturday Night Live’s oldest-ever host, and in June, White began a multi-year stint on TV Land’s Hot in Cleveland. The senior-themed prank show Betty White’s Off Their Rockers followed, from 2012 to 2014.

Over the course of her career, White earned eight Emmys, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, and a slew of other honors, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She also wrote several books and was active in several organizations dedicated to animals, including the Morris Animal Foundation and the Los Angeles Zoo.

White was married three times, most notably to Ludden from 1963 until his death of stomach cancer in 1981.

Photo by Angela George, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20918095

Article sources open article sources

Richard Severo and Peter Keepnews. “Betty White, a Television Golden Girl From the Start, Is Dead at 99.” The New York Times. December 31, 2021.
Biography.com. “Betty White.” Accessed December 31, 2021.
Encyclopedia Britannica. “Betty White.” Accessed December 31, 2021.
IMDB.com. “Betty White.” 2021. Accessed December 31, 2021.
Joyann Jeffrey. “Betty White Is Still Great at 98: ‘I’m Blessed With Incredibly Good Health.’” Closer Weekly. May 20, 2020.
History.com. “Betty White becomes oldest “Saturday Night Live” host.” May 6, 2020.
TVGuide.com. “Betty White's Off Their Rockers Season 3 Episodes.” 2014.

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