Legendary actress Betty White dies just weeks before her 100th birthday

31 December 2021, 19:48 | Updated: 31 December 2021, 22:46

Betty White has died aged 99
Betty White has died aged 99. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

The legendary comedic actress, Betty White, has died aged 99.

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Her agent and close friend Jeff Witjas told People magazine: "Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever."

He added: "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."

The award-winning actress, best known for starring as Rose in 1980s sitcom The Golden Girls, was born in Illinois on January 17 1922 and had a television career spanning more than 80 years.

She appeared in hit US sitcoms including Hot In Cleveland, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Betty White Show and Life With Elizabeth.

The screen veteran was named the female entertainer with the longest television career by Guinness World Records, having started out in 1939.

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Betty White at the 1986 Emmy Awards.
Betty White at the 1986 Emmy Awards. Picture: Ralph Dominguez/MediaPunch/Alamy

She has also written several books and has won five Primetime Emmy Awards out of 21 nominations, and a handful of other top accolades.

Just three days ago Betty White said she wass "lucky" to be in good health and "feel so good" as she approached her landmark 100th birthday.

The award-winning US actress, best known for starring as Rose in 1980s sitcom The Golden Girls, was due to celebrate her centennial birthday on January 17.

American actress Lisa Ann Walter paid tribute to the Hollywood icon, tweeting: "#Betty White had made me laugh for 50 years.

"She was a master class in the art of line delivery - especially the caustic cut served with dimples.

"More than that - she is an inspiration for funny women working well past our Hollywood expiration date. #RIPBettyWhite"

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The actress also wrote several books.
The actress also wrote several books. Picture: Ralph Dominguez/MediaPunch/Alamy

On her 96th birthday Betty credited "vodka and hot dogs" for her longevity adding: "It's your outlook on life that counts. If you take yourself lightly and don't take yourself too seriously, pretty soon you can find the humour in our everyday lives."

Explaining in 2011 how she kept up her frantic pace even as an octogenarian, she explained that she only needed four hours of sleep each night.

And when asked how she had managed to be universally loved during her decades-spanning career, she summed up with a dimpled smile: "I just make it my business to get along with people so I can have fun. It's that simple."

Star Trek star George Takei also payed respect to the acclaimed actress.

Takei wrote on Twitter: "Our national treasure, Betty White, has passed just before her 100th birthday.

"Our Sue Ann Nivens, our beloved Rose Nylund, has joined the heavens to delight the stars with her inimitable style, humor, and charm.

"A great loss to us all. We shall miss her dearly."

The actor added that everyone should toast to White when midnight strikes in honour of the actress.

The actress had a television career spanning more than 80 years.
The actress had a television career spanning more than 80 years. Picture: Ralph Dominguez/MediaPunch/Alamy

The US actress launched her TV career in daytime talk shows when the medium was still in its infancy.

Her combination of sweetness and edginess gave life to a roster of quirky characters in shows from the sitcom Life With Elizabeth in the early 1950s to oddball Rose Nylund in The Golden Girls in the 1980s to Boston Legal, which ran from 2004 to 2008.

American actress Reese Witherspoon has praised the late Betty White for "making us all laugh" after it was announced the actress has died at age 99.

The Legally Blonde star reshared an announcement by Vanity Fair magazine on Twitter and wrote: "So sad to hear about Betty White passing.

"I loved watching her characters that brought so much joy.

"Thank you, Betty, for making us all laugh!"