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- American actress and comedian (1922–2021)
US actress Betty White has died aged 99.
The award-winning actress, best known for starring as Rose in 1980s sitcom The Golden Girls, died less than a month before her 100th birthday.
She appeared in hit US sitcoms including Hot In Cleveland, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Betty White Show and Life With Elizabeth during a career spanning more than 80 years.
The screen veteran was named the female entertainer with the longest television career by Guinness World Records, having started out in 1939.
She has also written several books and has won five Primetime Emmy Awards out of 21 nominations, and a handful of other top accolades.
In a recent interview with People magazine, White said she felt “lucky” to be approaching her landmark 100th birthday.
She said she had been “born a cockeyed optimist” was able to “always find the positive.”
Over the years White garnered friendships with many well-known celebrities including US entertainer Liberace, actress Lucille Ball and Of Mice and Men novelist John Steinbeck.
White was born on January 17 1922 in Oak Park, Illinois, before her family moved to Los Angeles when she was a toddler.
She attended Beverly Hills High School, where her ambition turned to acting, and she appeared in several school plays before taking roles in a small theatre productions and radio dramas.
Her career as an actress was launched on TV career in daytime talk shows when the medium was still in its infancy.
Over the following decades she played a number of characters in shows including sitcom Life With Elizabeth in the early 1950s and made her film debut as a female US senator in Otto Preminger’s 1962 Capitol Hill drama Advise And Consent.
White’s most famous role came in 1985 when she starred as Rose Nylund in NBC’s The Golden Girls, alongside with Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty.
In 2010 she appeared in a Snickers during the US Super Bowl, impersonating a tired man who is tackled during an American 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, fires back: “That’s not what your girlfriend said!”
The commercial sparked a Facebook campaign called “Betty White to Host SNL (please?)!”, which resulted in her co-hosting the show.
Tributes to White flooded in online, including Late Night host Seth Myers who referenced her SNL appearance.
RIP Betty White, the only SNL host I ever saw get a standing ovation at the after party. A party at which she ordered a vodka and a hotdog and stayed til the bitter end.
— Seth Meyers (@sethmeyers) December 31, 2021
“RIP Betty White, the only SNL host I ever saw get a standing ovation at the after party,” he wrote.
“A party at which she ordered a vodka and a hotdog and stayed til the bitter end.”
Star Trek Actor George Takei praised her “inimitable style, humour and charm”.
Our national treasure, Betty White, has passed just before her 100th birthday. Our Sue Ann Nivens, our beloved Rose Nylund, has joined the heavens to delight the stars with her inimitable style, humor, and charm. A great loss to us all. We shall miss her dearly.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) December 31, 2021
“Our national treasure, Betty White, has passed just before her 100th birthday,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Our Sue Ann Nivens, our beloved Rose Nylund, has joined the heavens to delight the stars with her inimitable style, humour, and charm.
“A great loss to us all.
“We shall miss her dearly.
“When midnight strikes tonight, let us all raise a toast to Betty.”
Betty White brought a smile to the lips of generations of Americans. She’s a cultural icon who will be sorely missed. Jill and I are thinking of her family and all those who loved her this New Year’s Eve.
— President Biden (@POTUS) December 31, 2021
US president Joe Biden said the death of the actress was “a shame”.
Mr Biden’s official account later tweeted about White’s death, describing her as a “cultural icon.”
“Betty White brought a smile to the lips of generations of Americans,” he tweeted.
“She’s a cultural icon who will be sorely missed.
“Jill and I are thinking of her family and all those who loved her this New Year’s Eve.”