Legendary actress, comedian and a television pioneer Betty White died December 31, 2021. The acclaimed actress was best known for her longtime roles on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “The Golden Girls” and won several awards for her work and contributions to the entertainment industry, including eight Emmy Awards, a Grammy Award, three American Comedy Awards and three Screen Actors Guild Awards.
TMZ reported that White died on the last day of 2021 at the age of 99. She was just shy of her 100th birthday on January 17, 2022. According to the outlet, law enforcement shared that the television pioneer died at her home on Friday morning.
What was the actress and comedian’s cause of death?
According to TMZ, someone close to White said she didn’t have a sudden illness and her cause of death at this time is believed to be natural. Police and paramedics arrived at White’s home as standard procedure, the outlet wrote.
White Was Born on January 17, 1922, in Illinois & Grew Up in Los Angeles, Where She Developed a Passion for Performing
White was born Betty Marion White on January 17, 1922, in Oak Park, Illinois, according to Biography.com. Soon after she was born, her family moved to California and she grew up in Los Angeles, finding her passion for performing in junior high school, Huffington Post wrote in 2013. She began her professional acting career in 1939, a few months after high school, according to the outlet.
After World War II, she began her own TV series, “Life With Elizabeth,” of which she said, “I was one of the first women producers in Hollywood,” according to Biography.com. She frequently appeared on game shows and talk shows during the 1950s, according to the site. She was propelled to stardom with her award-winning role on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” from 1973 to 1977, nabbing two Emmy Awards in 1975 and 1976. She also appeared on “The Golden Girls” from 1985 to 1992, for which she received an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in 1986.
She continued appearing on various TV series and in movies, and had a career boost in 2010 when she hosted “Saturday Night Live” and got a recurring role on the sitcom “Hot in Cleveland.” IMDb credits her with 121 acting credits between 1945 and 2019 and 356 appearances as herself between 1952 and 2021.
Outside of her acting career, White often spoke about her passion for animals. As ABC News reported in 2010, White’s passion as a girl was to work as a forest ranger, and she only went into acting because “girls were not allowed to become forest rangers” at the time. Instead, she dedicated much of her personal life to supporting animal charities and initiatives.
White Was Married 3 Times but Never Remarried After the Death of Her Third Husband, Allen Ludden
During her life, White was married three times, as Closer Weekly reported. She was first married to a U.S. Army Air Corps pilot, Dick Barker, for five months in 1945, according to the outlet. Barker was an Ohio chicken farmer and the two met while White was working with the American Women’s Voluntary Service, The List reported. They got engaged in 1942, but after marrying in 1945 and moving to his small hometown in Ohio, they divorced the same year and she went back to California, according to a 2018 biography of White by Chris Dicker.
Two years later, she married Lane Allen, a Hollywood agent. Their marriage only lasted two years, from 1947 to 1949, Closer Weekly reported. In a 2017 interview with the outlet, White said, “I wish I didn’t have two bad marriages. They were probably my fault. I just didn’t marry the right men… I had lovely relationships, but not anything in the league of Allen [Ludden].”
Ludden was her third husband, a television personality, actor and host of the game show
“Password,” where the couple met. The two struck up a friendship and Ludden proposed twice before White finally accepted, Country Living reported in 2017. The two were married on June 14, 1963, and were together until he died in 1981 from stomach cancer. When asked in 2014 if she would ever remarry for a fourth time, White told Larry King, “When you’ve had the best, who needs the rest?”
Asked if she fears “leaving the planet,” White said, “Oh, no. I’m so curious! … And the older I get, the curiouser I get.” She also told King, “If you don’t think of death as an enemy, if you think of death as another adventure coming up, it doesn’t hurt as much.”