Hollywood icon Betty White has died, just days before her 100th birthday.
The legendary actress, who delighted fans as Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls, passed away at her home in Los Angeles on Friday, Dec. 31.
“Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever,” her agent Jeff Witjas confirmed to People. “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.”
While authorities could not confirm her identity at this time, LAPD told E! News they responded to a death investigation at 9:30 a.m. on Friday morning. “We’re currently there at scene and there is no foul play,” authorities said. “It seems like just a natural death investigation.”
Earlier this year, on Jan. 17, White took to her Instagram story to celebrate her 99th birthday. “Would you believe it?! she wrote. “It’s my 99th birthday which means I can stay up as late as I want without asking.” Alongside her message, White shared a video clips from her “long-lost series” The Pet Set.
“I am just so proud of the “Pet Set,'” she continued. “I hope everyone is well and staying safe. We will get through this.”
White was born in Oak Park, Illinois on January 17, 1922. Her legal name, ‘Betty’ is not a shortened version of ‘Elizabeth’ because her parents did not want their daughter saddled by any derivatives and nicknames like Beth, Liza and Ellie.
She started her entertainment career in radio in the late 1930s and by 1939 had made her TV debut singing on an experimental channel in Los Angeles. After serving in the American Women’s Voluntary Service, which helped the U.S. effort during World War Two, she was a regular on ‘Hollywood on Television,’ a daily five-hour live variety show, in 1949.
A few years later she became a pioneering woman in television by co-founding a production company and serving as a co-creator, producer and star of the 1950s sitcom ‘Life With Elizabeth.’
Through the 1960s and early ’70s White was seen regularly on television, hosting coverage of the annual Tournament of Rose Parade and appearing on game shows such as ‘Match Game’ and ‘Password.’ She married ‘Password’ host Allen Ludden, her third and final husband, in 1963.
White reached a new level of success on ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show,’ playing the host of a home-making television show, the snide, lusty Sue Ann Nivens, whose credo was ‘a woman who does a good job in the kitchen is sure to reap her rewards in other parts of the house.’ White won best-supporting actress Emmys for the role in 1975 and 1976.
She won another Emmy in 1986 for ‘The Golden Girls,’ a sitcom about four older women living together in Miami that featured an age demographic rarely highlighted on American television. White also was nominated for an Emmy six other times for her portrayal of the widowed Rose Nylund, a sweet, naive and ditzy Midwesterner, on the show, which ran from 1985 to 1992 and was one of the top-rated series of its time.
After a less successful sequel to ‘The Golden Girls’ came a series of small movie parts, talk-show appearances and one-off television roles, including one that won her an Emmy for a guest appearance on ‘The John Larroquette Show.’
By 2009 she was becoming ubiquitous with more frequent television appearances and a role in the Sandra Bullock film ‘The Proposal.’ She starred in a popular Snickers candy commercial that aired during the Super Bowl, taking a brutal hit in a mud puddle in a football game.
A young fan started a Facebook campaign to have White host ‘Saturday Night Live’ and she ended up appearing in every sketch on the show and winning still another Emmy for it.
The Associated Press voted her entertainer of the year in 2010 and a 2011 Reuters/Ipsos poll found that White, then 89, was the most popular and trusted celebrity in America with an 86 percent favorability rating.
White’s witty and brassy demeanor came in handy as host of ‘Betty White’s Off Their Rockers,’ a hidden-camera show in which elderly actors pulled pranks on younger people.
‘Who would ever dream that I would not only be this healthy, but still be invited to work?’ White said in a 2015 interview with Oprah Winfrey. ‘That’s the privilege … to still have jobs to do is such a privilege.’
White, who had no children, worked for animal causes. She once turned down a role in the movie ‘As Good as It Gets’ because of a scene in which a dog was thrown in a garbage chute.