(CMR) Betty White, whose sweet senior citizen characters were well-loved on TV shows and movies such as “The Golden Girls,” “Boston Legal,” and “Hot in Cleveland,” died just weeks before her 100th birthday.
White, who died Friday, 31 December, would have turned 100 on the 17th of January. Producers said a movie event planned before her death to mark the occasion would go on as planned, CNN reported.
White had the longest-running career for any woman in TV before her death — starring in multiple shows over the past eight decades, starting way back in 1939.
“Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever,” her agent and close 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,” Witjas said.
White was looking forward to celebrating her 100th birthday. She told People's Magazine: “I'm so lucky to be in such good health and feel so good at this age. It's amazing.”
According to People, as a child, White dreamed about becoming a forest ranger or a writer, only to fall in love with performing when she took the lead in the high school senior play that she wrote.
She skipped college and began performing on the radio, but before launching an acting career, she married twice: first to Dick Barker, a WWII pilot she wed in 1945 (the marriage lasted only a few months once he took her home to an Ohio chicken farm), then in 1947 to agent Lane Allen, who wanted her to give up showbiz.
When that marriage ended in 1949, she and an L.A. deejay named Al Jarvis got their feet wet together on local TV, which eventually paved the way for her first sitcom, the nationally syndicated Life with Elizabeth. Despite its low budget and minimal sets, the show earned White her first Emmy.
White won 5 Primetime Emmy Awards, including 2 for ‘Mary Tyler Moore,' 1 for “Golden Girls,” and 1 for her 1975 ‘SNL' appearance. She also won Screen Actors Guild Awards, American Comedy Awards, and even a 2012 Grammy.
White was born in Oak Park, Illinois, on January 17, 1922. Her mother was a homemaker, and her father was an executive for an electrical company. When she was two years old, her family moved to the Los Angeles area, where her father started manufacturing radios. During the Depression, business got so tight that he was forced to trade them for dogs, hoping that would turn into a business. White, who became a lifelong animal lover, remembered her family had about 20 dogs at one point.