Betty White, Iconic TV Star Dies at 99, Weeks Before 100th Birthday

Beloved actress Betty White died Friday at the age of 99, her publicist confirmed.

White's career spanned decades and included memorable roles on The Golden Girls and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She also became a popular presence in television commercials and talk shows. In 2010, White became the oldest person to ever host Saturday Night Live at the age of 88.

"Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever," White's agent, Jeff Witjas, told People in a statement. "I will miss her terribly and so will the animal world that she loved so much."

White's long career in show business began when she was eight years old with an appearance on a radio program in 1930. She was appearing on early television broadcasts by 1939 and found success in modeling.

She once had a radio show called The Betty White Show, which also served as the name of a daily talk and variety show that premiered in 1954 on NBC. That show prompted protests from some viewers due to its inclusion of a Black cast member, but White refused to remove him from the show even after stations threatened boycotts.

For a generation of fans, White might best be remembered for portraying Rose Nylund on the hit sitcom The Golden Girls from 1985–1992. She was the last member of the main cast to pass away.

Betty White
Betty White died Friday at the age of 99. In this photo, White speaks onstage during the 70th Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles, California, on September 17, 2018. Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

More recently, White starred on TV Land's Hot in Cleveland from 2010 until 2015, and in 2019 she voiced the character of a toy tiger named Bitey White in Pixar's Toy Story 4.

White won multiple Emmy Awards, American Comedy Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards and a Grammy Award. A star was placed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in her honor in 1988, and she was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1995.

In 2018, White earned a Guinness World Record for having the longest television career of any female in history. The male recipient, Bruce Forsyth, fell a few years behind White and passed away in 2017.

A documentary in her honor was already announced to show in select theaters on what would would have been her 100th birthday, January 17. The film, Betty White: 100 Years Young — A Birthday Celebration, features famous admirers like Ryan Reynolds, Tina Fey, Robert Redford, Lin Manuel-Miranda, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Carol Burnett and Jimmy Kimmel.

White's husband, actor and television personality Allen Ludden, passed away in 1981.

"I don't think Betty ever feared passing because she always wanted to be with her most beloved husband Allen Ludden," Witjas said in his statement to People. "She believed she would be with him again."

Update 12/31/21, 3:25 p.m. ET: This article has been updated to include more information about White's life and career.