Betty White is dead at age 99, just weeks before what would have been her 100th birthday on Jan. 17.
TMZ was the first outlet to report on White’s death, while a rep for the Los Angeles Police Department told ET that the primary investigation indicated White died of natural causes, with “no evidence of foul play.”
White’s agent and close friend Jeff Witjas confirmed the news to People.
“Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever,” said Witjas 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.”
White is a bona fide television icon, with a career that spanned nine decades. She racked up hundreds of screen credits that included such classic television shows as “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “The Golden Girls”.
Beginning her acting career in radio, White appeared in the very first, experimental television broadcast. In the 1940s she was tapped as “girl Friday” on a local Los Angeles talk show “Hollywood on Television”, which aired for five and a half hours each day, six days a week.
Filling all those hours honed White’s skills as a performer, which were on display when she starred on 1953’s “Life with Elizabeth”, one of television’s first sitcoms.
In 1961, a chance appearance on the game show “Password” led White to meet the love of her life, and she and the show’s host, Allen Ludden, wed a year later. The couple remained happily married until Ludden’s death in 1981.
It was White’s role on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” in the 1970s that cemented her as a star. White would got on to win two Emmys for her portrayal of Sue Ann Nivens, man-hungry host of TV cooking show “The Happy Homemaker”.
In the following decade, White became part of another enduring TV hit when she was cast as ditzy Rose Nylund on “The Golden Girls”, which ran from 1986 until 1992. White received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in each year of the show’s run, winning in 1986.
White maintained a busy schedule as an in-demand actress during the decades that followed, highlighted by her Emmy-nominated series regular role in sitcom “Hot in Cleveland”, and numerous guest-starring appearances, including an Emmy win for a guest spot on “The John Larroquette Show”.
White also received Emmy nominations for her appearances on “Suddenly Susan”, “Yes Dear”, “The Practice” and for hosting a 2010 episode of “Saturday Night Live”, the result of a social media fan campaign.
Throughout her career, White was one of Hollywood’s most vocal animal-rights advocates, working with the Los Angeles SPCA since the 1960s.
White was also the author of several books, including If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won’t), in which she described her philosophy on aging.
“It’s not a surprise, we knew it was coming — make the most of it,” she wrote. “So you may not be as fast on your feet, and the image in your mirror may be a little disappointing, but if you are still functioning and not in pain, gratitude should be the name of the game.”
Following news of White’s death, numerous celebrities have been paying tribute on social media.
The world looks different now. 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. pic.twitter.com/uevwerjobS
— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) December 31, 2021
Tonight we will raise MANY glasses to the WONDERFUL legacy of Betty White!!! ♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️
— Andy Cohen (@Andy) December 31, 2021
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
Betty White : I is very hard to absorb you are not here anymore.. But the memories of your deLIGHT
are ..Thank you for yur humor , your warmth and your activism ..
Rest now and say Hi to Bill
— Henry Winkler (@hwinkler4real) December 31, 2021
What an exceptional life.
I’m grateful for every second I got to spend with Betty White.
Sending love to her family, friends and all of us.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) December 31, 2021
😩 NOT BETTY WHITE 😩
— michelle visage (@michellevisage) December 31, 2021
— Luann de Lesseps (@CountessLuann) December 31, 2021
While watching the news last night I learned of Betty White’s passing. Betty will live forever not only in this world but the world here after. I will always love her as we all will!
— Dolly Parton (@DollyParton) January 1, 2022
— Debbie Allen (@msdebbieallen) December 31, 2021
I loved Betty White, so I went up to them: “I’m so honored to meet you both.” And then I said, “Isn’t Linda great?” She said, “We came to see you.” I said, “Why?” “Because we heard you were funny.” I was elated.
— Steve Martin (@SteveMartinToGo) December 31, 2021
Really 2021… really … 😭😭😭RIP Betty White 🖤
— Lexi Kaufman (@AlexaBliss_WWE) December 31, 2021
Golden Girls was our favorite show to watch with our Dad Saturday nights. When we were 9 his TV broke. The screen went black, but still had sound. We begged to get a new one. "Why, we know what the Golden Girls look like!" he laughed. We listened for months. RIP Betty White. ❤️
— Tegan and Sara (@teganandsara) December 31, 2021
Y’all, with the passing of #BettyWhite we have lost one of the best humans ever!
— LeVar Burton (@levarburton) December 31, 2021
— Don Lemon (@donlemon) December 31, 2021
RIP Betty White! Man did I think you would live forever. You blew a huge hole in this world that will inspire generations. Rest in glorious peace….you’ve earned your wings ❤️❤️❤https://t.co/7wpeLHgySy
— Viola Davis (@violadavis) December 31, 2021
A spirit of goodness and hope. Betty White was much beloved because of who she was, and how she embraced a life well lived. Her smile. Her sense of humor. Her basic decency. Our world would be better if more followed her example. It is diminished with her passing.
— Dan Rather (@DanRather) December 31, 2021
I’ve loved few things in comedy more than Betty White’s sense of humor, that mischievous twinkle in her eye when she knew she was about to do something raucous or naughty. Thanks for the endless decades of funny and for all the animals you helped. Rest easy ♥️ pic.twitter.com/f2DvsURqXj
— Zelda Williams (@zeldawilliams) December 31, 2021
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
I already hated and was destined to FOREVER hate 2021 because it took my mom 💔.
Now it’s taken #BettyWhite on the last day of the freaking year?!
Hate is not a strong enough word.
Abhor doesn’t even get it done.
Damn. Just DAMN!
— yvette nicole brown (@YNB) December 31, 2021
In 1954, #BettyWhite was criticized after having Arthur Duncan, a Black tap dancer, on her show.
Her response: "I'm sorry. Live with it."
She then gave Duncan even more airtime. The show was canceled soon after.
— The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center (@TheKingCenter) December 31, 2021
— Alex Newell (@thealexnewell) December 31, 2021
— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) December 31, 2021
Another brilliant talent has made her transition. I had the pleasure of getting to know Betty White and shared a few giggles with her. May she rest in well-earned peace. ❤️
— Dionne Warwick (@dionnewarwick) December 31, 2021
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! https://t.co/iOkmHLrW21
— Reese Witherspoon (@ReeseW) December 31, 2021
Well 2021 just topped 2020 for being the absolute worst. RIP Brilliant Betty White
— Audra McDonald (@AudraEqualityMc) December 31, 2021
We are saddened by the passing of Betty White.
Not only was she an amazing actress, she also served during WWII as a member of the American Women's Voluntary Services.
A true legend on and off the screen. pic.twitter.com/1HRDYCeV7w
— U.S. Army (@USArmy) December 31, 2021