The trailblazing TV and film star was preparing to celebrate her 100th birthday in January.
Betty White, the star of television shows including The Golden Girls and Hot in Cleveland, has died aged 99.
“Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever,” agent and 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 was born in Oak Park, Illinois, on 17 January 1922. Her family moved to California a year later, arriving in Los Angeles during the Great Depression. She began working in television in 1939, but put her career on hold to volunteer with the American Women’s Voluntary Services during World War II.
In 1952, White co-created the sitcom Life With Elizabeth which ran until 1955 and made her the first female sitcom producer in Hollywood history. She remained a fixture on American television during the Sixties, and from 1973 to 1977 won great acclaim with her hilarious turn as fictional TV host Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
From 1985 to 1992, White played Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls, the role for which she remains best known. White won the Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series for the first season of the show and went on to be nominated in the same category every year the show ran.
In 2010, White had another sitcom hit, starring in Hot In Cleveland alongside Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves and Wendie Malick. She celebrated her 90th birthday in 2012 with an all-star television special featuring her old co-stars Mary Tyler Moore, Ed Asner and Carl Reiner, as well as comedians influenced by her including Tina Fey.
At the time of her death she had been preparing to mark her 100th birthday celebrations on 17 January 2022 with the release of a new documentary Betty White: 100 Years Young — A Birthday Celebration. The film includes contributions from celebrity friends and fans includingRyan Reynolds, Tina Fey, Robert Redford, Lin Manuel- Miranda, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Jay Leno, Carol Burnett, Craig Ferguson, Jimmy Kimmel, Valerie Bertinelli and James Corden.