TV icon, Betty White, has died weeks shy of her 100th birthday
Fans are mourning the loss of icon Betty White, who has died on New Year's Eve, weeks shy of her 100th birthday.
TMZ was first to report the bleak news on Friday, citing law enforcement officials as saying the renowned actress and animal lover had died at her home.
People and the Washington Post then also confirmed White's death.
The actress has been beloved by generations of fans, through her roles in hit TV series "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "The Golden Girls," and later, "Hot in Cleveland."
In recent weeks, People Magazine had been promoting a special cover issue featuring White, who would have become a centenarian on Jan. 17, 2022.
White had told People that being "born a cockeyed optimist" was the key to her upbeat nature, telling the magazine "I got it from my mom, and that never changed.... I always find the positive."
Hosting "Saturday Night Live" in 2010 — at age 88 — earned White a fifth Emmy Award and a new generation of admirers.
"You could make a convincing case that Betty White is the most versatile and beloved entertainer in American history," author Ray Richmond previously said, whose "Betty White: 100 Remarkable Moments in an Extraordinary Life" was released earlier this month.
Among moments and milestones recounted in "Betty White: 100 Remarkable Moments in an Extraordinary Life":
—After singing at her 1939 high school graduation, White and another student were asked to join an experimental TV test in Los Angeles. As the pair danced and sang on the sixth floor of a building owned by auto dealer and broadcast pioneer Earle C. Anthony, the performance was transmitted to the lobby. The audience: the teens' parents and a few others.
—When the United States entered World War II in December 1941, White, then just shy of 20, joined a women's volunteer organization that provided home-front support. She drove trucks carrying supplies for soldiers housed at Los Angeles-area camps during the day; at night, she joined dances for troops set to be deployed overseas.
—"The Betty White Show," with White hosting a half-hour of songs and interviews, debuted in 1954 on NBC. It included 21-year-old Black tap dancer Arthur Duncan at a time when people of color were rarely seen on TV. Station managers citing viewer complaints threatened to pull the show. A defiant White began booking Duncan more frequently, with the network's backing.
—White moved in glamorous circles, and created them. Burnett recalls joining "game nights" at the White-Ludden house. Charades, board games and such were the entertainment, and "they would have people there like Fred Astaire just hanging around. And Burt Reynolds. My gosh, there were just so many," Burnett said.
White followed three of her iconic peers in dying in 2021, as Cloris Leachman died last January, Gavin McLeod in May and Ed Asner in August, respectively.
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