Known as Betty White in the world of television, Betty Marion White Ludden was born on January 17, 1922, and died on December 31, 2021, one month shy of her 100th birthday on January 17, 2022.
Betty was an American actress and comedian. A pioneer of early television, with a career spanning over seven decades, White was noted for her extensive work in the entertainment industry.
White’s most notable roles include Sue Ann Nivens on the CBS sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1973–1977), Rose Nylund on the NBC sitcom The Golden Girls (1985–1992), and Elka Ostrovsky on the TV Land sitcom Hot in Cleveland (2010–2015). She was among the first women to exert control in and behind the camera. Betty White was also the first woman to produce a sitcom (Life with Elizabeth), which contributed to her being named honorary Mayor of Hollywood in 1955.
White was eight years old when she made her radio programming debut as a guest caller in 1930. Several years later, in young adulthood, she began working as a radio personality in Los Angeles under the guidance of disc jockey Al Jarvis.
After making the transition to television, Betty White became a staple panelist of American game shows. These shows included Password, Match Game, Tattletales, To Tell the Truth, The Hollywood Squares. Also, in 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 was also known for her appearances on The Bold and the Beautiful, Boston Legal, The Carol Burnett Show, and Saturday Night Live.
With a television career spanning over nine decades, White worked longer in that medium than anyone else in the television industry, 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 has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was a 1985 Television Hall of Fame inductee.
Betty’s agent and friend, Jeff Witjas, said, “even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever,” Jeff said in a statement. “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.”
Recently Betty White reacting to her upcoming My 100th birthday called herself “so lucky,” saying being “born a cockeyed optimist” was the key to her positive attitude, she told People Magazine. “I got it from my mom, and that never changed,” she said. “I always find the positive.”
Betty White began her career back in 1939 and grew into a comedy legend known for The Golden Girls and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
White was famously the subject of death hoaxes for years, with Twitter being tricked by false stories almost every year since 2014. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of today’s news.
The American powerhouse spoke about life in her 90s before her death. “The best thing about being in your 90s is you’re spoiled rotten. Everybody spoils you like mad, and they treat you such respect because you’re old. Little do they know, you haven’t changed. You haven’t changed in [the brain]. You’re just 90 every place else,” she told People in 2013. “Now that I’m 91, as opposed to being 90, I’m much wiser. I’m much more aware, and I’m much sexier.”
“I have no regrets at all. I consider myself to be the luckiest old broad on two feet,” Betty added, speaking to Guinness World Records after earning the Guinness World Record for Longest TV Career for an Entertainer.
White famously loved animals and advocated for endangered species in the wild, even publishing a book—Betty & Friends: My Life at the Zoo—about it. If you feel so inclined, you can donate to the Betty White Wildlife Rapid Response Fund (which helps rare saiga antelope) in her honor.