As first reported by TMZ, White was found dead this morning at the age of 99, just weeks before her milestone 100th birthday. There were plans for a huge People Magazine issue in celebration of her birthday on January 17, as well as a number of specials documenting her incredible life.
The best way to describe Betty White is pretty simple: She is the star of television. Think about all of her work across the decades — she may be best known for The Golden Girls, but she had scene-stealing roles before that in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, her own self-titled series, and also in a number of classic game shows where she was a beloved panelist and guest. We can’t think of a more memorable presence in late-night across so many generations where she was consistently funny.
We’d say that the modern Betty White renaissance started around the time she was pushed to host Saturday Night Live, and she had another comedy life courtesy of Hot in Cleveland, which she did for a handful of seasons. She also did memorable roles in Boston Legal, Bones, and Community, where she is pictured above. This is without even mentioning some of her famous commercials spots.
Can you name an entertainment figure more universally loved than Betty White? It’s hard to think of one. She was hilarious, endearing, charitable, and kind — she never immersed herself in controversy and knew how give viewers what they wanted without ever over-saturating herself.
Because the news is still breaking, we’re sure that more and more tributes are going to come in. Also, don’t be surprised if there are many tributes planned at the last-minute for her during tonight’s New Year’s Eve specials. It’s such a shame to lose Betty right before her 100th birthday, but we know how many people out there loved and cherished every single second we had of her.
Our thoughts go out to Betty’s family and loved ones during this difficult time. (Photo: NBC.)