Friday Jul 1, 2022
Friday Jul 1, 2022

Betty White, TV’s Golden Girl, dies at 99


Nepalnews
2022 Jan 01, 8:29, Los Angeles

Betty White, whose saucy, up-for-anything charm made her a television mainstay for more than 60 years, whether as a man-crazy TV hostess on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” or the loopy housemate on “The Golden Girls,” has died. She was 99.

White’s death was confirmed Friday by Jeff Witjas, her longtime agent and friend. She would have turned 100 on Jan. 17.

“I truly never thought she was going to pass away,” Witjas told The Associated Press. “She meant the world to me as a friend. She was the most positive person I’ve ever known.”

Witjas said White had been staying close to her Los Angeles home during the pandemic out of caution but had no diagnosed illness. It was unclear if she died Thursday night or Friday, he said.

Her death brought tributes from celebrities and politicians alike.

“We loved Betty White,” first lady Jill Biden said as she and President Joe Biden left a restaurant in Wilmington, Delaware. Added the president: “Ninety-nine years old. As my mother would say, ‘God love her.’”

“She was great at defying expectation,” Ryan Reynolds, who starred alongside her in the comedy “The Proposal,” tweeted. “She managed to grow very old and somehow, not old enough. We’ll miss you, Betty.”

White launched her TV career in daytime talk shows when the medium was still in its infancy and endured well into the age of cable and streaming. 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 ’80s to “Boston Legal,” which ran from 2004 to 2008.

The "Mary Tyler Moore" show cast at the 1976 Emmys. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
The "Mary Tyler Moore" show cast at the 1976 Emmys. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

But it was in 2010 that White’s stardom erupted as never before.

In a Snickers commercial that premiered during that year’s Super Bowl telecast, she impersonated an energy-sapped dude getting tackled during a backlot football game.

“Mike, you’re playing like Betty White out there,” jeered one of his chums. White, flat on the ground and covered in mud, fired back, “That’s not what your girlfriend said!”

The instantly-viral video helped spark a Facebook campaign called “Betty White to Host SNL (please?)!,” whose half-million fans led to her co-hosting “Saturday Night Live” in a much-watched, much-hailed edition that Mother’s Day weekend. The appearance won her a seventh Emmy award.

A month later, cable’s TV Land premiered “Hot In Cleveland,” the network’s first original scripted series, which starred Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves and Wendie Malick as three past-their-prime show-biz veterans who move to Cleveland to escape the youth obsession of Hollywood. They move into a home being looked after by an elderly Polish widow — a character, played by White, who was meant to appear only in the pilot episode.

But White stole the show, and the salty Elka Ostrovsky became a key part of the series, an immediate hit. She was voted the Entertainer of the Year by members of The Associated Press.

“It’s ridiculous,” White said of the honor. “They haven’t caught on to me, and I hope they never do.”

By then, White had not only become the hippest star around, but also a role model for how to grow old joyously.

“Don’t try to be young,” she told The AP. “Just open your mind. Stay interested in stuff. There are so many things I won’t live long enough to find out about, but I’m still curious about them.”

White in June 2010. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
White in June 2010. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)

Such was her popularity that even White’s birthday became a national event: In January 2012, NBC aired “Betty White’s 90th Birthday Party” as a star-studded prime-time special. She would later appear in such series as “Bones” and “Fireside Chat With Esther” and in 2019 gave voice to one of the toys, “Bitey White,” in “Toy Story 4.”

In a People cover story on White’s upcoming 100th birthday, the magazine’s Jan. 10 issue touted White’s secrets for longevity and quoted her as saying, “Funny never gets old.”

Witjas said it was as if Betty insisted on a last laugh: “It’s a wonderful tribute, and she has to pull this.”

A film honoring White on her birthday will be released as planned for a one-day showing in more than 900 theaters nationwide, said Steve Boettcher and Mike Trinklein, producers of “Betty White: 100 Years Young — A Birthday Celebration.”

“We will go forward with our plans to show the film on Jan. 17 in hopes our film will provide a way for all who loved her to celebrate her life — and experience what made her such a national treasure,” they said in a statement.

White remained youthful in part through her skill at playing bawdy or naughty while radiating niceness. The horror spoof “Lake Placid” and “The Proposal” were marked by her characters’ surprisingly salty language. And her character Catherine Piper killed a man with a skillet on “Boston Legal.”

But she almost wasn’t cast as “Happy Homemaker” Sue Ann Nivens in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” in 1973. She and her husband, Allen Ludden, were close friends of Moore and Moore’s then-husband, producer Grant Tinker. It was feared that if White failed on the show, which already was a huge hit, it would be embarrassing for all four. But CBS casting head Ethel Winant declared White the logical choice. Originally planned as a one-shot appearance, the role of Sue Ann (which humorously foreshadowed Martha Stewart) lasted until Moore ended the series in 1977.

Betty White in 2006. (AP Photo/Rene Macur)
Betty White in 2006. (AP Photo/Rene Macur)

Her early ambition was to be a writer, and she wrote her grammar school graduation play, giving herself the leading role.

At Beverly Hills High School, her ambition turned to acting, and she appeared in several school plays. Her parents hoped she’d go to college, but instead she took roles in a small theater and played bit parts in radio dramas.

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 beloved 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.”

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Betty White Hollywood actress actor movie film celebrity death Mourn
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