Beloved comedian and actor, Betty White died on Dec. 31, 2021, about two weeks before her 100th birthday. The former "Golden Girls" star and — let's be real — national treasure, died peacefully in her sleep, People magazine reported.
White was a pioneer of television, first as an actor in the 1940s and then as one of the first women to successfully produce and write her own television show, "Life with Elizabeth," in the 1950s. Over the course of her decades-long career, White received eight Emmy Awards in various categories, three American Comedy Awards, three Screen Actors Guild awards and a Grammy. But she was also known for her love and well-being of animals. She served first as a trustee and later as a President Emerita for the Morris Animal Foundation, a science-drive organization that funds research to find solutions to health issues affecting all animals.
White was born Jan. 17, 1922, in Oak Park, Illinois. The family moved to California when she was 2 years old. White began working as an assistant for a local television station and got her start in the early 1950s when she launched "Life with Elizabeth," a series she developed with George Tibbles. The show ran from 1953 until 1956 and earned White her first Emmy. Her career was off and running.
White worked regularly in television and her wit and timing made her a frequent guest on Jack Paar's Tonight Show and popular daytime game shows such as "Password," hosted by Allen Ludden. White met Ludden in 1961 and the two married in 1963. Though she'd married twice previously, Ludden was the love of her life. They remained married until Ludden's death in 1981.
In 1973, White's career rocketed when she took the role of Sue Ann Nivens on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." Man-hungry Nivens was the perfect role for White, the perky on-air "happy homemaker" capable of delivering stinging barbs with a smile. What was supposed to be a one-time guest appearance turned into a two-time Emmy Award winning role for White.
She played the exact opposite of Sue Ann Nivens in the 1980s when she teamed up with veteran actors Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty in the long-running sitcom "The Golden Girls." White scooped up two more Emmys playing sweet, befuddled Rose Nylund who didn't often get the joke but whose heart was always in the right place. When the show ended in 1992, White continued to work, first in a short-lived spin-off, "Golden Palace," then making guest appearances, providing voice work and doing recurring roles on television. She had a supporting role in the 2010 film "The Proposal," starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds.
On May 8, 2010, after more than half a million fans rallied to a Facebook campaign, White became the oldest person to host SNL. She was 88 at the time. White won her seventh Emmy for her performance. White also returned to television, joining the cast of "Hot in Cleveland," which starred Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, Wendie Malick and ran for five years.