Actress Betty White sitting on a patio

Betty White: TV Legend, “Hot In Cleveland” and “Golden Girls” Star Leaves Us at 99

A couple of weeks shy of her 100th birthday, on the last day of an already cruel 2021. The Hollywood legend Betty White breathed her last breath. Betty White is not only an Emmy-winning TV star. But also a person whose humanity in her ability to be a ray of sunshine for everyone. Moreover, this makes her death a loss that ripples through the world. She had a remarkable later-career resurgence in films, TV commercials and the hit series. Specifically, “The Golden Girls” and “Hot in Cleveland” is where I was first introduced to comic legend for the first time.

As soon as the news of her passing broke out, there was an outpouring of prayers. Such as condolences and remembrances on social media. Especially heartfelt condolences from former co-stars and longtime admirers of the beloved actress, whose work and popularity spanned nearly eight decades.

The approaching of White’s 100th birthday sparked numerous tributes and appreciations of her long run in the industry.

Just this week, White graced the cover of People magazine. “I’m so lucky to be in such good health and feel so good at this age,” White told the magazine.

Betty White’s full name is Betty Marion White Ludden. She came into this world on January 17, 1922, and left this world on December 31, 2021. Not only was she an American actress and comedian. But also a pioneer of early television. With a career spanning almost eight decades. Betty White is notable for her vast work in the entertainment industry.

Remarkable Career Accomplishments of Betty White

Betty White broke new ground as the first woman to produce a sitcom (Life with Elizabeth) in the United States. This made a contribution to her being named honorary mayor of Hollywood in 1955. White is often called the “First Lady of Television“. Moreover, a title used for a 2018 documentary detailing her life and career.

After making the transition to television from radio, Betty White became a staple panellist of American game shows. Mainly including Password, Match Game, Tattletales, To Tell the Truth, The Hollywood Squares, and The $25,000 Pyramid; dubbed “the first lady of game shows”.

White became the first woman to receive the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host for the show Just Men! in 1983. She is also known for her appearances in The Bold and the Beautiful, Boston Legal, and The Carol Burnett Show.

In the 1970s, she was given her own platform – The Betty White Show. During which she famously helped to launch the career of tap dancer Arthur Duncan. Despite receiving complaints about having given a Black variety performer air time. Later, she starred in The Golden Girls and in movies such as The Proposal. With Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, and You Again with Jamie Lee Curtis and Kristen Bell.

Betty White’s Biggest Roles

Her biggest roles include Sue Ann Nivens on the CBS sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1973–1977). Additionally, Rose Nylund on the NBC sitcom The Golden Girls (1985–1992). Moreover, she played Elka Ostrovsky on the TV Land sitcom Hot in Cleveland (2010–2015) were I came to enjoy in the glory of Betty White . She became popular after her appearance in the 2009 romantic comedy film The Proposal (2009). Subsequently, she was the subject of a successful Facebook-based campaign. Mainly to host Saturday Night Live in 2010, garnering her a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series.

White worked longer in television than anyone else in that medium, earning her a Guinness World Record in 2018. White received eight Emmy Awards in various categories, three American Comedy Awards, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, and a Grammy Award. She is literally a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was a 1995 Television Hall of Fame inductee.

Betty White’s People Magazine Cover

“You don’t fall off the planet once you pass a given age,” Betty White said on the Today show in 1991.

“You don’t lose any of your sense of humor. You don’t lose any of your zest for life or your lust for life.”

White practised what she preached in life and became more than a television icon. She was — and is — an inspiration.

Many have joked that Betty, who was the queen of comic timing and had a wicked sense of humour, is no doubt smiling from above about that People cover.

Betty’s life — from her groundbreaking career in Hollywood to her activism on behalf of animals to her touching love story with husband Allen Ludden — has been an inspiration. Over the years, she has given all of us so much joy and laughter. In the People issue celebrating Betty’s extraordinary legacy. You can never have too much Betty.

To this incredible trailblazer, I say thank you, Betty White.

Betty White Celebrity Tributes

Among the celebrities leading tributes to the late star are Ryan Reynolds, Viola Davis and Joe Biden.

Reynolds, who worked with Betty White on The Proposal, had incredibly touching words to say about the late movie star, including:

‘She was great at defying expectations. She managed to grow very old and, somehow, not old enough.’

Sandra Bullock, who starred with Betty White in The Proposal, bid farewell to her former colleague via a brief interview with People mag, in which she said:

‘I don’t drink vodka … but I will tonight, on ice, with a slice of lemon with a hot dog on the other side and just be okay being sad. I’ll have to buy some rose-colored glasses because Betty was that for all of us.’

According to a White House Correspondent, President Joe Biden had these words to say about the passing of Betty White:

‘That’s a shame. She was a lovely lady… 99 years old. As my mother would say, God love her.’ Later, the President also tweeted: ‘Betty White brought a smile to the lips of generations of Americans. She’s a cultural icon who will be sorely missed. Jill and I are thinking of her family and all those who loved her this New Year’s Eve.’

Her Co-Stars Send Their Wishes Online

Fellow actor Witherspoon took to Twitter and Instagram Stories to post the same message:

So sad to hear about Betty White passing. I loved watching her characters, which brought so much joy. Thank you, Betty, for making us all laugh ❤️’

Viola Davis said on Twitter:

‘RIP Betty White! Man did I think you would live forever. You blew a huge hole in this world that will inspire generations. Rest in glorious peace….you’ve earned your wings ❤️ ❤️ ❤️’

Will and Grace star Debra Messing had this tweet for Betty:

‘Betty White. Oh noooooooo. I grew up watching and being delighted by her. She was playful and daring and smart. We all knew this day would come, but it doesn’t take away the feeling of loss. A national treasure, indeed. Fly with the Angels. ❤️’

Betty White’s Charity Work

She is involved with animal charities such as “Actors and Others for Animals”. Also, the Morris Animal Foundation. She has served as a trustee of the latter since 1971 and was an honorary president. When it came to people, Betty White loved to make them laugh. When it came to animals, she loved to lend them a helping hand.

A lifelong animal lover, White — who died Friday at age 99 — said her parents instilled in her a compassion for all creatures, great and small.
“They imbued in me the fact that, to me, there isn’t an animal on the planet that I don’t find fascinating and want to learn more about,” she told Smithsonian Magazine.
She even aspired to become a forest ranger or zookeeper before going to Hollywood.
“I often say that I have to stay in show business to pay for my animal business,” White liked to joke. Throughout her career, she worked with a number of animal health, welfare, and conservation groups, including those below.

The Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association

White passionately advocated for zoos — particularly the Los Angeles Zoo — and took an active role in the non-profit supporting it. Besides her zoo commissioner duties, she volunteered with the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association for more than 40 years as a trustee and chair. She strongly supported the conservation and educational missions of zoos.
“Zoos have changed dramatically in our lifetimes,” White wrote for the Los Angeles Zoo. “Our zoo animals serve as ambassadors to the public — to make people aware of the diminishing wild populations before it is too late. A message that will only register by seeing these wondrous creatures live and up close.”
In 2011, White published “Betty and Friends: My Life at the Zoo,” a book chronicling her experiences with animals. The crew on her TV Land sitcom “Hot in Cleveland” adopted a baby orangutan at the Los Angeles Zoo the following year and named it after her character on the show.

American Humane Society

American Humane (formerly known as the American Humane Association) is the first animal welfare group White joined, and she remained involved for more than 60 years. White said her acting work allowed her to see firsthand how the group kept her animal co-stars safe through its “No Animals Were Harmed” certification program.
She became a national ambassador for a non-profit and appeared in public service announcements like the one above. In 2012, American Humane honoured White with its highest honour, the National Humanitarian Medal, and its Legacy Award for a lifetime of helping animals.
“Betty White is a tireless and devoted animal welfare advocate and we are proud to honour her with these two special awards,” American Humane President and CEO Robin Ganzert said in a statement at the time. “Betty is an inspiration to me personally, to everyone at American Humane Association and to millions of animal lovers around the globe.”

Guide Dogs for the Blind

White was a major donor to Guide Dogs for the Blind. She was involved with the non-profit for more than 30 years, sponsoring dogs, hosting benefits and raising money.
White didn’t need a guide dog to get around, but she took one home anyway — as a pet. After she lost a previous dog to cancer, Guide Dogs for the Blind offered her Pontiac, a young golden retriever in need of a career change. A leg problem ended his service dog training, but it led to a close companionship with White.
“That’s my heart, my golden retriever,” she told AARP. “Whenever I come home late from work at night, I come up to the house and here’s this big golden head in the window on the left stairway landing, looking out and waiting for me.”

Endangered Wolf Center

Marlin Perkins, the famed zoologist and host of the television show “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom,” and his wife, Carol, founded the Endangered Wolf Center in 1971. Previously known as the Wild Canid Survival and Research Center, the non-profit care for endangered species of canids like the Mexican grey wolf and reintroduces them into the wild to help balance natural ecosystems. It is now considered an essential part of federal wolf recovery efforts.
Without White, though, it might have happened.
“It was all Betty’s fault.”
Carol Perkins told the St. Louis Dispatch in 2000.
“Betty’s the one who turned me on to wolves.”
White loved wolves all her life. She fondly remembered seeing and hearing them as a child on family camping trips. After White and Perkins met in the early 1960s, White sent a book about wolves to Perkins, and Perkins credited their friendship for sparking her own interest in the animals.
In 2005, White began the non-profit’s “Puppy Naming Club” — supporters who get to pick names for the centre’s youngest wolves. The name she chose for a male pup was fitting: Perkins, after her late friend Marlin, who passed away in 1986.

Brave Hearts Therapeutic Riding and Educational Center

BraveHearts Therapeutic Riding and Educational Center uses horsemanship to help children and adults deal with medical problems. It’s home to the largest equine-based services program for veterans in the US.
White got involved with BraveHearts through a contact on the board. She became a close friend and generous supporter, attending fundraisers and sponsoring a golden-colored horse named Baby.
“We call Betty and Baby our Golden Girls,” BraveHearts Founder Marge Tautkus Gunnar said.
White connected with humans and horses alike during her visit to the center.
“Here is this wonderful, iconic lady floating through the barn, adoring the horses, they adoring her back,” Gunnar recalled. “And the students and their families flocking up to her, and she was just so kind and gracious and giving to them.”

Conclusion

Betty White holding Allen Ludden
Betty White holding Allen Ludden/ Photo: Getty Images

Betty White’s last words were a call for her late husband. White was married to Allen Ludden from 1963 until his death from cancer in 1981.

A tribute film titled Betty White: 100 Years Young – A Birthday Celebration will still play in movie theatres for one night only.

This is an encapsulation of a formidable woman who represented hope and humanity. I will surely miss you, Betty White.

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