Though it seemed as though she would be with us forever, stage and screen icon Betty White has died at the age of 99.

Born Betty Marion White in Oak Park, Illinois in 1922, her family moved to California in 1923 and to Los Angeles during the Great Depression. Though she attended the Beverly Hills High School, she initially gravitated towards a career as a forest ranger, but was denied that opportunity as women were not allowed to take those jobs at the time. Instead, she turned to writing, penning a graduation play for Horace Mann School, and then decided to pursue work as an actress.

She’d already realized that ambition aged eight on a radio play, and following her high school graduation, she worked in television. When World War II broke out, she put her ambitions on hold to volunteer with the American Women’s Voluntary Services, where her duties included transporting military supplies in California.

Post-war, she toured studios looking for acting work, but was rejected for not being “photogenic” enough. Turning to radio, she forged a successful run – initially without pay – on various shows and then scored a gig co-hosting live daily TV series Hollywood On Television.

White took over hosting the show, ending up presenting more than five hours of ad-libbed live TV six days a week for four years.

At the same time, she co-founded Bandy Productions with writer George Tibbles and producer Don Fedderson, becoming one of the few women in TV in creative control of her work, producing and starring in Life With Elizabeth. A talk show, The Betty White Show followed, and during the 1960s she became a staple of TV game shows.

Other TV shows included work on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mama’s Family, Hot In Cleveland and possibly her most iconic role, that of Rose on The Golden Girls. That was followed by spin-off The Golden Palace, cementing her status as an icon.

On the big screen, she’s been seen in an eclectic mix of movies, kicking off with 1951’s The Daring Miss Jones. Other work included Hard Rain, Holy Man, The Story Of Us, Toy Story 4 and, in 2009, The Proposal, starring alongside Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, the latter of whom started a years-long friendship and flirtation. He paid tribute via Twitter.

Asked in 2016 what her legacy would be, she said, “I want them to still think kindly of me and maybe make them smile.” Mission well and truly accomplished. White died a few days short of her 100th birthday and the world is a poorer place without her in it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *