Betty White Dies: ‘The Golden Girls’ and ‘Hot in Cleveland’ Star, Was 99

Betty White at the 2nd Annual TV Land Awards, Hollywood Palladium, Hollywood, CA 03-07-04/Deposit Photos

Betty White, a legendary actress, animal rights activist, and cultural icon known for roles on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Golden Girls, Hot in Cleveland, and the film The Proposal has died. She was 99.

White passed away Friday morning at her home in Los Angeles, just days before she would have turned 100 on Jan. 17, her agent and close friend Jeff Witjas said in a statement to People magazine.

“Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever,” Witjas said. “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.”

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Ed Asner, Valerie Harper, John Amos, Mary Tyler Moore, Cloris Leachman, Betty White and Gavin MacLeod at the 2nd Annual TV Land Awards - Press Room, Hollywood Palladium, Hollywood, CA 03-07-04 — Photo by s_bukley/Deposit Photos
(L-R) Ed Asner, Valerie Harper, John Amos, Mary Tyler Moore, Cloris Leachman, Betty White and Gavin MacLeod at the 2nd Annual TV Land Awards, March 7, 2004. (Credit: S_Bukley)

White, a native of Oak Park, Illinois, was best known for playing Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1973-77). The role made her a household name and earned her two Primetime Emmy Awards.

She won over a new legion of fans as ditzy Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls (1985-92), and the short-lived spinoff, The Golden Palace.

The Golden Girls would bring White another Emmy for her work. Throughout her career, she took home a total of five Emmy Awards, with more coming for guest roles on The John Larroquette Show and Saturday Night Live.

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White also co-starred on the ensemble comedy Hot in Cleveland as Elka Ostrovsky. The series, which was TV Land’s first original show, ran from 2010-2015.

While the actress gained fame for her TV work, she also had roles in a string of successful films including Lake Placid (1999) and The Proposal (2009). In 2019, she had a voice role as “Bitey White” in Toy Story 4.

Born Jan. 17, 1922, Betty Marion White was her parents’ only child. The family moved from Illinois to Los Angeles during the Great Depression. White launched a career in show business in the 1940s after she graduated from high school. She began working in radio and later got her own show, called The Betty White Show. She soon landed small parts on television shows and appeared on the daytime drama Another World in 1964.

White loved animals. She was a tireless supporter of the Los Angeles Zoo and spent her 90th birthday at the facility.

She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1985.