LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Betty White has died weeks before reaching her 100th birthday, according to media reports.
“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 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.”
Law enforcement sources told TMZ she passed at home Friday morning.
White had the longest-running career of any woman in TV prior to her death, spanning eight decades.
She is best known for her role as Rose Nylund in “The Golden Girls,” but she became a comedy icon and stayed in the public light until her death.
She also starred as Sue Ann Nivens in The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She won back-to-back Emmy Awards for that role.
She briefly had her own show, “The Betty White Show,” after her run on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
A pioneering figure, White was one of the first women to produce a sitcom on “Life with Elizabeth,” a show she helped create in 1952 that she also starred in and wrote for.
Her success continued into her 80s and 90s. In 2010 at age 88, she joined the cast of “Hot in Cleveland” and became the oldest person ever to host “Saturday Night Live.”
In a 2021 interview with “People” days before her 99th birthday, White credited her longevity to being “blessed with good health” and “a sense of humor.”
“Don’t take yourself too seriously,” she told the magazine. “You can lie to others — not that I would — but you cannot lie to yourself.”
The actress was born in Oak Park, Illinois, on Jan. 17, 1922, as Betty Marion White. But before she turned 2, amid the Great Depression, her family moved to the Los Angeles area, where her show business career kicked off at age 8 with a role on the radio program “Empire Builders.”
White’s first dream was to become a forest ranger, but at the time women weren’t allowed to hold that job. (The U.S. Forest Service named her an honorary forest ranger at age 88.)
So she decided to become a writer instead and penned herself into a lead role in a play at Horace Mann Elementary School in Beverly Hills. Her first television appearance came three months after she graduated from Beverly Hills High School in 1939, White said in a 1994 interview for the Archive of American Television.
In 1995, White was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.
Despite a successful entertainment career spanning more than 90 years, White was equally celebrated for her tireless efforts on behalf of animals.
She served as a board member of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association and trustee of the Morris Animal Foundation since the ’70s, according to Bloomberg.
White was married three times, but said her third husband, Allen Ludden, was the love of her life. The pair was married from 1963 until Ludden’s death in 1981.