Tributes are flowing today for beloved actor and comedian Betty White, who has died less than three weeks shy of her 100th birthday.
TMZ first broke the news, reporting the 99-year-old had died on Friday (local time) at her home in Brentwood, California.
LAPD spokesman Mike Lopez later told the New York Post that officers had responded to a “natural death investigation” call at the actor’s home around 9.30am.
White’s agent and friend Jeff Witjas confirmed the news in a statement to People magazine, saying despite her age he “thought she would live forever”.
“I don’t think Betty ever feared passing because she always wanted to be with her most beloved husband, Alan Ludden,” he said.
“She believed she would be with him again.”
He told the publication White had died peacefully in her sleep.
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White, who made her TV debut in 1939 at the age of 17, was probably best-known for her roles on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Golden Girls and Hot in Cleveland.
Over time, she became a pop culture icon, and an advocate for both the LGBTQ community and animal groups.
“Betty White was an icon in the entertainment industry and a true ‘friend’ to the LGBTQ community, GLAAD’s Head of Talent Anthony Allen Ramos said.
“Her character Rose on The Golden Girls was instrumental in drawing mainstream attention to LGBTQ issues on television, namely an episode that raised awareness about HIV in 1990. Throughout the rest of her career, White used her platform to advocate for many issues affecting the LGBTQ community, including marriage equality and supporting at-risk queer youth.”
In 2010, White’s fans began a Facebook campaign called “Betty White to Host SNL (Please)”.
When almost half-a-million people signed up, she became the oldest person to host the late-night comedy show aged 88, and won her seventh Emmy for the performance.
Everyone from former co-stars to Cher, Lizzo and Halsey shared emotional tributes and celebrated the nonagenarian’s sassy sense of humour on social media today.
White had made headlines just this week when she told People magazine in her 100th birthday special, “I’ve heard Ryan [Reynolds] can’t get over his thing for me.”
The pair co-starred in the 2009 movie The Proposal, alongside Sandra Bullock.
Reynolds only responded yesterday, tweeting, “I’m absolutely sick of the media exploiting past relationships just to drive clicks.”
Today’s tone was more sombre.
“The world looks different now. She was great at defying expectation. She managed to grow very old and somehow, not olden enough. We’ll miss you, Betty. Now you know the secret,” he wrote.
“I don’t drink vodka … but I will tonight, on ice, with a slice of lemon with a hot dog on the other side and just be okay being sad.”” Bullock told People.
“I’ll have to buy some rose-colored glasses because Betty was that for all of us.”
Lizzo and Halsey simply tweeted Betty’s name with broken heart and sad face emojis respectively.
Cher lamented that none of her tweets were posting along with the proclamation, “BETTY IS DEAD”.
“I watched her on her first TV show “Life With Elizabeth” when I was 7 years old. When she did S&C I got a chance to tell her. I was embarrassed cause tears came to my eyes. She put her arms around me, and I felt seven again. Some people are called icons, Betty is a true icon,” she added.
Sibling duo Tegan and Sara shared childhood memories of a generation:
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
“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,” they wrote.
Other tributes can be found below:
Betty White is irreplaceable. Wit, class, guts, kindness, a total icon. I know I’m just one of millions to say it but… you’re my hero, Betty White! You will be greatly missed. ❤️
— Amy Lee (@AmyLeeEV) December 31, 2021
Huey: Acting with Betty White on “Hot in Cleveland” was one of my truly great experiences. She was funny, of course, smart, and very sweet. And talk about comedic timing. What an amazing career, and what a great person. I’m so lucky I got to work with her. #bettywhite pic.twitter.com/O3QhhPzKRZ
— Huey Lewis (@HueyLewisNews) December 31, 2021
By all accounts, #BettyWhite guzzled down every ounce life had to offer. And that she was mere weeks away from reaching 100, let’s all round up and always refer to her as having lived to that age, shall we? #ripbettywhite
— Richard Marx (@richardmarx) December 31, 2021
God bless Betty White. As my mom would say, “we were so lucky to have her.”https://t.co/pXzu6JezOg
— Conan O'Brien (@ConanOBrien) December 31, 2021
All of us in Times Square and around the world are grieving the loss of Betty White. She was a TV pioneer who paved the way for so many people. Beyond that, she showed us what you can accomplish in a lifetime through kindness and humor. Rest in peace to a true American icon. pic.twitter.com/J3GekFkzrj
— Ryan Seacrest (@RyanSeacrest) December 31, 2021
And this one, which sums it up pretty well:
— Courtney Theriault (@cspotweet) December 31, 2021