On December 31st, 2022, television icon Betty White passed away at the age of 99. She is commonly recognized as a pioneer of early television, and she holds the Guinness World Record for the “Longest Television Career (female).”
White began her lengthy television career in the 1930s when she assisted at a local television station, and her first major television series came in the 1950s from Life With Elizabeth. The show was based on a sketch made by White during her days on local television. She produced and starred in the show, making her one of the first female producers in Hollywood. Following this, she starred in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, winning two Emmys for her role. Additionally, White had consistent appearances on other shows, including game shows such as The Password.
Arguably White’s most beloved role as Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls. This show ran from 1985 to 1992, and followed four divorced or widowed women in their “golden years.” It was awarded three Golden Globes and two Emmys, and each of the stars won an Emmy for their respective roles. After the discontinuation of The Golden Girls, White continued to have numerous appearances on television and at 88, became the oldest person to host Saturday Night Live.
During her career, White accumulated five Primetime Emmy Awards, two Daytime Emmys, a Los Angeles Emmy, a Lifetime Achievement Emmy, and three American Comedy Awards. This is only a fraction of her recognitions,, and she had many others such as being named the Funniest Female in 1987. Outside of television, White was very passionate about animal conservation and dedicated time to raising money for various animal causes. She was even awarded a Humane Award from the American Veterinary Medical Association for her efforts.
Betty White´s death came as a shock to many. Even in her old age, she continued to have her signature charisma that made her such a beloved icon. Her work made her a household name for generations. Her passing came just three weeks before her 100th birthday, which was already being celebrated by many. People Magazine dedicated the cover of their January issue to White’s monumental birthday, including interviews with White regarding her longevity and career. Though her death came before her 100th birthday, People still chose to publish the issue in celebration of her work.
Additionally, a film honoring Betty White (“Betty White: 100 Years Young- A Birthday Celebration”) will be moving forward in production despite her passing. The producers released a statement saying that “We will go forward with our plans to show the film on Jan. 17 in hopes our film will provide a way for all who loved her to celebrate her life — and experience what made her such a national treasure.”
Betty White had an immeasurable impact on the industry and her legacy will continue on past her death. Her incredible career will continue to be a gold standard for decades to come.