Veteran US actress Betty White dies aged 99 - a month before her 100th birthday

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Betty White  (PA) (PA Media)
Betty White (PA) (PA Media)

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.

White was born in Illinois on January 17 1922 and had a television career spanning more than 80 years.

She appeared in hit US sitcoms including Hot In Cleveland, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Betty White Show and Life With Elizabeth.

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.

Tributes were paid to White on Friday evening.

President Joe Biden paid tribute White as he spoke to reporters after enjoying a New Year’s Eve lunch with first lady Jill in Wilmington, Delaware.

“That’s a shame. She was a lovely lady. ... 99 years old. As my mother would say, ‘God love her.’”

American actress Reese Witherspoon has praised the late Betty White for “making us all laugh”.

Biden also 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.”

The Legally Blonde star reshared an announcement by Vanity Fair magazine on Twitter and wrote: “So sad to hear about Betty White passing.

“I loved watching her characters that brought so much joy.

“Thank you, Betty, for making us all laugh!”

American actress Lisa Ann Walter tweeted: “#Betty White had made me laugh for 50 years.

“She was a master class in the art of line delivery – especially the caustic cut served with dimples.

“More than that – she is an inspiration for funny women working well past our Hollywood expiration date. #RIPBettyWhite”

Star Trek star George Takei wrote on Twitter: “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.”

The actor added that everyone should toast to White when midnight strikes in honour of the actress.

Ryan Reynolds has said “the world looks different now” that White has died.

White played Reynolds’ grandmother in 2009 romantic comedy The Proposal, earning herself a Golden Globe nomination.

The actor shared a photo to Instagram of White smiling and giving the camera a thumbs-up and wrote: “She was great at defying expectation.

“She managed to grow very old and somehow, not old enough.

“We’ll miss you, Betty. Now you know the secret.”

Comedian and actress Kathy Griffin has recalled fond memories with White.

In a long post to social media, Griffin said the first time she met White was when the actress made an appearance on the sitcom Suddenly Susan in the late 1990s and Griffin received a joking jab from White for stealing her parking space.

She added: “She treated me like we were in the same club or something.

“She actually treated me like an equal in the comedy gurrrl world.

“She was as sharp and funny as she was soft and wise and no matter how long this world continues to spin, there will be only one Betty White.”

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