Betty White dies at 99: Legendary actress passes away

Legendary comedic actress Betty White, ‘the First Lady of Television’ dies at the age of 99 – days short of her 100th birthday – after an eight-decade long career in Hollywood

  • Betty White, an early pioneer in television comedy and star of The Golden Girls has died at the age of 99 – after an 80-year-long career in Hollywood 
  • White holds the Guinness World Record for ‘Longest TV Career for an Entertainer’ after she started working in television in 1939 
  • Without any formal training, White starred alongside disc-jockey Al Jarvis in one of TV’s earliest variety shows filmed in LA called, ‘Hollywood on Television’ 
  • She was preceded in death by her third husband, Allen Ludden and survived by three stepchildren. White had no children of her own 
  • She is the recipient of eight Emmy Awards (21 nominations), three Screen Actors Guild Awards and a 1985 Television Hall of Fame inductee 
  • She credited ‘vodka, french fries and hot dogs’ for her longevity and said her ‘obsessive addiction to crossword puzzles’ kept her mind sharp 

Beloved Golden Girls star Betty White has passed away at the age of 99, just weeks before her milestone 100th birthday. 

White is said to have passed away at her home on Friday morning, law enforcement confirmed.

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 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. 

White was an only child and liked it that way, she remembers her blissfully happy childhood as ‘spoiled rotten, but taught to appreciate it.’ 

Her family moved to Los Angeles in 1923 when she was just over a year old. She attended Beverly Hills High School and though she was interested in theater she said, her dream was to become a zookeeper or forest ranger. ‘The problem was, back then a girl wasn’t allowed to be either one,’ she wrote in her autobiography. 

When she graduated high school in 1939, television was still a new frontier that had begun in New York but not yet started in California. Three months later, she was asked to do an experimental television show in downtown Los Angeles where she performed a waltz from The Merry Widow on the fifth floor of the Packard Automobile building. ‘And it was broadcast all the way to the bottom floor. My parents had to stand in front of a tiny little monitor on the first floor to see me! But it was the beginning of television in Los Angeles.’   

White made her rounds at movie studios but was told that she was too ‘unphotogenic’ for the silver screen. Alternatively, she picked up odd jobs in modeling and radio until World War II broke out when temporarily shelved her showbiz career to join the American Women’s Voluntary Services.

White drove a PX truck carrying toothpaste, soap, candy and supplies to the camps in the Hollywood Hills and spent her nights at the raucous send-off dances organized for soldiers being shipped overseas. ‘It was a strange time and out of balance with everything,’ she recalled to Cleveland Magazine in 2010. ‘Which I’m sure the young people are going through now. We’ll never learn. We’ll never learn.’ 

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