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31st Dec 2021

Betty White dead at 99: Hollywood legend dead weeks before hundredth birthday

Adam Bloodworth

She would have been a hundred in January

Betty White has died aged 99.

She was a legend of the big and small screens, most famous for 1980s and 1990s sitcom Golden Girls, and one of Hollywood’s last true greats dating back to the Golden Era.

Her first work in Hollywood was in the 1930s, and incredibly she was still acting until 2019 when she had a cameo in Toy Story.

Her career spanned eight decades, but for younger fans, she might have been more known for her cheeky sense of humour than her acting back catalog.

This week, speaking to People magazine ahead of what would have been her hundredth birthday, she joked about how Ryan Reynolds had a crush on her.

“I’ve heard Ryan can’t get over his thing for me,” she joked. “But Robert Redford is The One.”

In her later years she had roles in Lake Placid, The Wedding Singer and Hard Rain, and alongside Ryan Reynolds in The Proposal.

She was the recipient of eight Emmy Awards for her contribution to the TV landscape, including the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for Golden Girls.

But away from film and TV she was much-loved for her passion for charity. In 2018 she joked to The Hollywood Reporter that she had to “keep acting so that I can afford to keep doing my charity work!” She was involved with dozens of charities, including animal rights charities, the Elton John AIDS Foundation and multiple humanitarian organisations.

She was a self-starter from an early age. She called herself “one of the first female producers in Hollywood” when she launched TV sitcom Life with Elizabeth in 1953.

Alongside sitcom the Golden Girls, she was most known for starring on The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the 1970s in a role which won her two more Emmys.

Working way into her 90s, in 2010 Betty became the oldest ever host of Saturday Night Live, after her many international fans set up a Facebook page campaigning for her to appear on the comedy show.

In Toy Story 4 she voiced a tiger named Bitey White, exhibiting her sense of humour one final time.

“I’m actually the luckiest old broad alive,” she said, reflecting on her life, according to BBC. “Half my life is working in a profession I love and the other half is working with animals.”

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Betty White