“Golden Girls” star and international icon, Betty White, has died at age 99, days before turning 100. As a talented actress and comedian, Betty soon excelled to stardom with a career spanning all the way to 1930.
“Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever,” her agent and close friend Jeff Witjas told People Magazine in a statement on Friday. “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.”
White’s career spanned seven decades as she became one of the most endearing and enduring faces on television. She passed peacefully at home from natural causes, according to sources.
The star was born in Oak Park, Illinois, on Jan. 17, 1922. She began her entertainment career at age 8 in 1930 on an episode of a radio program called “Empire Builders.”
Later on in 1954, in her adult years, White hosted and produced her own daily talk show called “The Betty White Show” on NBC.
White had creative control over the series where she hired a female director and featured Arthur Duncan, one of the first African American performers on television. Her show faced criticism for the inclusion of Duncan as a regular member of the cast.
The criticism followed when NBC expanded the show nationally. In response, White said “I’m sorry. Live with it,” and proceeded to give Duncan more airtime. Unfortunately, NBC quietly cancelled the show by the end of the year.
As White’s career continued to progress, she made regular appearances on such iconic shows like “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Golden Girls” and its sequel “The Golden Palace,” and, most recently, “Hot in Cleveland.”
I was first introduced to Betty through “Golden Girls,” the hit show exploring the life of four women living together through their golden years of life. The comedic show would rerun on TV Land and my grandparents and I would sit and watch, laughing together while eating popcorn and drinking a coke.
Fast forward to 2020, after my grandfather’s passing in 2016, my grandmother and I would revisit the series. My grandmother suffered from dementia and the series would rejuvenate her spirit and bring a smile to her face from time to time, and I’m so thankful for those moments.
In many ways, the Golden Girls were also grandparents to me. Losing the last surviving member of that group is heartbreaking.
Betty White has been a household name and America’s ultimate sweetheart for literal generations. She entertained countless individuals, provided laughter to those in need and stood up for animal rights most of her life. Her legacy will last forever and her influence will never die. May she rest in peace.