Betty White, Hollywood icon and TV's Golden Girl, dead at 99

WATCH ABOVE: Actress, comedian and Hollywood icon Betty White has died at the age of 99. Ross Lord looks back at the life and legacy of TV’s Golden Girl.

Actress, comedian and Hollywood icon Betty White has died at the age of 99, weeks before her 100th birthday.

Her death was confirmed by her longtime agent Jeff Witjas, who said it was unclear whether White had died Thursday night or Friday.

Witjas said White had been staying near her home in Los Angeles during the pandemic and had no diagnosed illness. No cause was cited in her death.

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White, TV’s Golden Girl, was a pioneer of early television and had a career spanning over nine decades, working longer in that medium than anyone else in the television industry.

She was best known as Sue Ann Nivens on the 1970s sitcom Mary Tyler Moore, for which she won best-supporting actress Emmys in 1975 and 1976, and for playing Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls in the 1980s, for which she won another Emmy in 1986.

White also had her own series, Life with Elizabeth, in 1952, and later appeared in Boston Legal, which ran between 2004 to 2008. She has been inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.

White was born in Oak Park, Ill., in 1922. Her family moved to Los Angeles during the Great Depression, where she attended Beverly Hills High School.

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She started her entertainment career in radio in the late 1930s, and by 1939, she made her TV debut singing on an experimental channel in Los Angeles.

After serving in the American Women’s Voluntary Service during the Second World War, she was a regular on Hollywood on Television, a daily five-hour live variety show, in 1949.

Throughout the 1960s and early ’70s, White was a regular on TV, hosting coverage of the annual Tournament of Rose Parade and appearing on game shows like Match Game and Password. She married Allen Ludden, host of Password, in 1963.

The actress made a comeback in 2010 after appearing in a Snickers Super Bowl commercial that featured her toughness, and then became the oldest person to host Saturday Night Live at age 88 in 2010 after fans demanded her appearance. She earned her seventh Emmy award from the appearance on the late-night show.

A month later, White added another TV show to her repertoire, Hot in Cleveland, and became a key part of the series even though she was only meant to appear in the pilot.

White’s comeback set an example for how to age gracefully and was humble about the attention she received into her golden years.

“It’s incredible that I’m still in this business and that you are still putting up with me,” White said at the 2018 Emmy Awards ceremony, where she was honoured.

White, who had no children, was also known for her work on behalf of animal causes. She once turned down a role in the movie As Good as It Gets because of a scene involving a dog being thrown in a garbage chute.

She was set to celebrate her 100th birthday on January 17, 2022, and had tweeted just days ago about her appearance on the cover of People magazine to mark the occasion.

On the cover of the magazine, she is quoted as saying: “Funny never gets old.”

— with files from Global News’ Eric Stober, Reuters and The Associated Press

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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