A brilliant and beloved iconic American actress and comedian whose influence is beyond measure, having aged gracefully and resplendently in stardom until the age of 99.
On 31 December 2021, the last day of the year, this memorable and wonderful woman passed away in her sleep peacefully. She will forever be remembered in our hearts and in the golden halls of Hollywood. May she rest in peace.
In commemoration of Betty White, here are ten facts you may (or may not) have known about her:
Her Humble Beginnings
Betty Marion White was born on 17 January 1922 in Oakland, Illinois, Chicago during the Great Depression as the only child to Christine Tess, a homemaker, and Horace Logan White, who was a lighting company executive, though they moved to Los Angeles later.
Her Childhood Dreams
Ever since she was a child, Betty White dreamed of being a forest ranger and always had a passion for nature, except the profession was not available to women until 1957, whilst she graduated from high school much earlier.
However, she developed her love for acting when she was selected for as the leading role for her high school senior play that she wrote, and kick-started her entertainment career by doing a radio show in the late 1930s, later making her television debut singing on an experimental channel in LA.
Her Participation in War Efforts during World War II
During World War II, she served in the American Women’s Voluntary Service, driving a “PX truck” delivering soap, toothpaste, and candy to soldiers manning the gun placements that the government had installed in the hills of Santa Monica and Hollywood.
Her Dazzling Personality
White personally believed that she was “born a cockeyed optimist” which she inherited from her mother, leading to her natural upbeat nature. White was never afraid to mock herself and throw out a joke about her own sex life, and she even “loved to throw her little F-bombs around and does it with this beautifully dimpled smile.”
Heck, whenever she was asked if there was anything she still wanted to do, her standard response was always “Robert Redford”, and you have to admit that her humour and libido were in the right place.
Her Best-Known Roles
In her seven-decade-long career, Betty White was most well-known for two main roles:
- Her dual-natured home-and-hearth loving and secretly nymphomaniacal role called Sue Ann Nivens in an American sitcom called The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the 70s,
- Her portrayal as Rose Nylund, a sweet, beguiling, and ditzy Midwesterner in another sitcom called The Golden Girls about four older women, in which she was nominated for the Emmy Awards six times and won twice.
Her Long List of Accomplishments
In total, Betty White was nominated for a total of 21 Primetime Emmy Awards, winning five times, in addition to two Daytime Emmy Awards, and received a Los Angeles Emmy Award in 1952.
She was also nominated for the Screen Actors Guild Award for outstanding performance by an actress in a comedy series thrice—in 2011, 2012, and 2013—of which she won the first two times.
Her final Emmy Award was in 2010, where she won Outstanding Guest Actress in a comedy series for hosting the Mother’s Day episode on Saturday Night Live.
Her Three Marriages
Her first husband was a P-38 pilot by the name of Dick Barker, whom she married in 1945. The marriage lasted for a few months, and he was never mentioned in her 1945 Autobiography Here We Go Again.
Her second husband was an agent called Lane Allen, whom she married in 1947 and later divorced in 1949, since he wanted her to give up on the showbiz.
Her third and final husband—whom White deemed as “the love of her life”—was the Password Host Allen Ludden. He was a widower with three children, and when he proposed marriage in 1963, he sent her an “adorable fluffy white stuffed bunny”, and she later told The People Magazine that “its ears were gold leaves with ruby, diamond, and sapphire earrings.”
Unfortunately, Allen Ludden died of stomach cancer in 1981. Sometimes Betty White gets the urge to deck someone whenever they say that “she was so strong…” where his death was concerned.
Her Charity Work
Betty White was an active philanthropist who devoted her time and financial resources to organisations like the American Humane Association and the Fund for Animals, Bet’s Pets, Wildlife Learning Center, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and Actors and Others for Animals.
White states that her love for animals was fuelled by her annual camping trips in Sierra Nevadas, she and her parent even “wound up with 26 dogs once”.
Interesting Roles She Took On
- A tiger teething toy named Bitey White in 2019’s Toy Story
- An elderly fish called Beatrice in Spongebob Squarepants
- Grandma Norma in The Lorax
- Doolin in The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy
- Guest-starred in The Simpsons and The Family Guy
Her Motto in Life
In her interview with PEOPLE, White declared that “having a sense of humour” is the key to a long and happy life. “Just looking at the positive side and not dwelling on the downside. [It] takes too much energy to be negative”.
This has been her motto for many years and she tries to make the best out of every single day “You better realise how good life is while it’s happening,” she said. “Because before you know it, it will all be gone.”
Another interesting anecdote from her is: “Get eight hours of beauty sleep. Nine, if you’re ugly.”
Dear Betty White, you will be dearly missed.
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