Iconic TV actress, comedian Betty White passes away at 99

With an incredible career that has spanned over 80 years, legendary TV actress Betty White passed away at the age of 99 Friday, her agent confirmed. 

She was 17 days shy of celebrating her 100th birthday. 


Officers with the Los Angeles Police Department were called White’s home located near the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Bundy Drive in Brentwood around 9:30 a.m. The preliminary investigation reveals she died of natural causes and there is no evidence of foul play. 

"Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever," her agent and close friend Jeff Witjas told PEOPLE in a statement. "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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The iconic TV actress, comedian, producer and animal advocate has had one of the longest careers in television history. White was best known for her Emmy-winning roles as Sue Ann Nivens on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and as Rose Nylund on "The Golden Girls."

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 20: Actress Betty White attends The Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association's (GLAZA) 45th Annual Beastly Ball at the Los Angeles Zoo on June 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage)

Betty Marion White Ludden was born on January 17, 1922, in Oak Park, Illinois, to parents Christine Tess (Cachikis), a homemaker, and Horace Logan White, a lighting company executive. Her family moved to Los Angeles when White was two years old. White attended and graduated from Beverly Hills High School in 1939 at age 17. Before White started acting in television she worked in theater, radio and as a model.


Her acting career was put on hold during World War II. White joined the American Women’s Voluntary Services, where she delivered military supplies throughout California. She also participated in song and dance shows for soldiers before they were sent overseas.

In 1947, White married Lane Allen, a Hollywood talent agent. The marriage ended in divorce in 1949 after Allen pressured White to give up her career to become a homemaker.

White's first sitcom, Life With Elizabeth from 1953 to 1955, earned her recognition as the first woman to produce a sitcom and contributed to her receiving the honorary title, Mayor of Hollywood, in 1955.

In 1973, White made several appearances in the fourth season of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," as the "man-hungry" and devious Sue Ann Nivens. The role won White her second and third Emmy Awards.

White went on to play naïve Rose Nylund on the 1980s sitcom "The Golden Girls." The show was about four elderly women trying to navigate life after divorce in their "golden years." The groundbreaking show made White into a TV comedy icon. "The Golden Girls" earned 58 Emmy nominations and earned White a Primetime Emmy Award in 1986.

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White was also an avid animal welfare activist and worked with a number of organizations; including the Los Angeles Zoo Commission, the Morris Animal Foundation, Actors & Others for Animals, the Farm Animal Reform Movement and Friends of Animals.

She had a syndicated show, The Pet Set, in the 1970s that included segments with stars and their pets. White told FOX 11 in a 2012 interview, she attributes her sunny positivity to her great parents and love of animals. "I think the four-leggeds beats the two-leggeds nine times out of ten."

White said, "They respond to you. They respond to the positives you bring them. I think we can all learn a lot from them." "I am comfortable around them [animals]. I am not always comfortable around people."

(KTTV: Josh Kaplan)

White received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on February 18, 1988. The star is located next to her late husband, game show host and producer Allen Ludden. She was married to Ludden from 1963 until his death in 1981. Ludden died from stomach cancer in 1981, in Los Angeles. They had no children together and White is the stepmother to his three children from his first marriage. "All of a sudden when you meet the right one there’s just no question," White told FOX 11 about her marriage to Ludden.

Betty White kept herself pretty busy appearing in movies and television well into the 21st century. 2010 proved to be a very busy and successful year for White. She starred in a hilarious ad campaign for Snickers that ran during the Super Bowl.

At age 88, White was the oldest person to ever host Saturday Night Live. That appearance won her another Primetime Emmy. White told FOX 11 she turned down SNL three times before she agreed to host the show. "It was scary, but it was the most fun I ever had," White said.

Also in 2010, White played Elka Ostrovsky on the TVLand sitcom Hot in Cleveland. The show lasted until 2015.

In 2012, White hosted a hidden camera show, "Betty White’s Off Their Rockers," where she and her cast would play pranks on unsuspecting younger people. She received an Emmy Award nomination for her work on the show.

"I love what I do for a living I am the luckiest old broad on two feet. It’s a privilege and I never take it for granted," White told FOX 11.

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