The Life and Times of Betty White

On+December+31%2C+2021%2C+one+of+television%E2%80%99s+most+beloved+women%2C+Betty+White%2C+passed+away+of+natural+causes+at+the+age+of+99%2C+only+days+before+her+100th+birthday.+

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On December 31, 2021, one of television’s most beloved women, Betty White, passed away of natural causes at the age of 99, only days before her 100th birthday.

Grace Mulroy, Freelancer

On December 31, 2021, one of television’s most beloved women, Betty White, passed away of natural causes at the age of 99, only days before her 100th birthday. 

This is tragic news. However, instead of being dejected over her death, let’s celebrate her life. Legend does not even begin to describe this incredible actress, comedian, and human being. This is the life and times of Betty White. 

Growing Up

Betty White was born in Oak Park, Illinois on January 17, 1922. White’s family moved to Alhambra, California, and later moved to Los Angeles. White attended primary and secondary school in the Beverly Hills Unified School District. 

She had a great interest in wildlife, animals, and the great outdoors, which sparked many family trips to Sierra Nevada. White wanted to be a forest ranger growing up, but was unable because women were not typically allowed to be rangers at this time. 

Instead, she took an interest in writing. She wrote and performed the lead in a play at The Horace Mann School. This is where she initially discovered her interest in performing. 

Career 

When World War II broke out, White volunteered for the American Women’s Voluntary Services. 

After the War ended, White started looking for acting jobs. Her first few jobs were on the radio. This meant doing commercials, playing bit parts, and making crowd noises. She was in radio shows such as The Great Gildersleeve, Blondie and This is Your FBI. She became the co-host on Hollywood on Television in 1949.

In 1952, White co-founded Brandy Productions with George Tibbles and Don Fedderson. The producers created Life with Elizabeth with White portraying the main character. The show became trademarked in 1952, letting White become the first woman in television with full creative control over a show. 

In 1952, White hosted her own show called The Betty White Show. For the first time in television history, the show featured a black performer, Arthur Duncan. Many southern television stations threatened to boycott her show unless Duncan was fired. However, instead of removing him from the show, White responded by saying, “I’m sorry. Live with it,” and gave Duncan more screen time.

Starting in the 1950s and going through the 1960s, White began a 19-year-long run as an announcer for the annual Rose Parade on NBC. 

In 1975, she was replaced and soon after began a ten-year run as a host for The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for CBS. In 1983, White was the first woman to win a daytime Emmy in the category of Outstanding Game Show Host for her contributions to the show Just Men!

White scored her most acclaimed role in 1985: Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls. This role became known as the highlight of her career. White won an Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series after the show’s first season.

In January 2010, a grassroots campaign on Facebook called “Betty White to Host SNL (Please)” was born. On May 8, 2010, the group got their wish. At 88 years of age, White became the oldest person to host SNL ever. In her opening speech, she showed gratitude to the Facebook group by saying, “I didn’t know what Facebook was, and now that I do know what it is, I have to say, it sounds like a huge waste of time.” The appearance got her another Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series. 

In 2012, she won a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Recording for her best-selling novel If You Ask Me. She also won the Jack Benny Award for Comedy at UCLA for her huge contribution to the television industry.

Betty White was a remarkable person. She changed television history along with the rest of the world. All I can say is: Thank you for being a friend, Betty White. ”

— Grace Mulroy

Personal Life

While enlisting for the American Women’s Voluntary Services, White married her first husband, Dick Barker. After the war came to a close, Barker and White tied the knot. The newlywed couple moved to Belle Center, Ohio. Barker hoped to indulge in a simple life however, White opposed. She moved back to Los Angeles and divorced him not long after. 

In 1947, she tied the knot a second time with a man by the name of Allen Ludden, whom she met on the game show Password. Ludden had to propose to White at least twice before she accepted. Ludden died of cancer on June 9, 1981, in Los Angeles. White never remarried after this. When asked why this was, she claimed, “Once you’ve had the best, who needs the rest?” 

Causes and Advocacy

White was an animal enthusiast and animal welfare advocate. She worked with the Los Angeles Zoo Commission, Morris Animal Foundation, African Wildlife Foundation, and Actors and Others for Animals. White was the president of the Morris Animal Foundation. In 1974, White became a member of the board of directions for the Los Angeles Zoo Association.

White was also a supporter of the LGBTQ community. White said, “There are gay relationships that are more solid than some heterosexual ones, I think it’s fine they want to get married. I don’t know how people can get so anti-something. Mind your own business, take care of your affairs, and don’t worry about other people so much.” 

Betty White was a remarkable person. She changed television history along with the rest of the world. All I can say is: Thank you for being a friend, Betty White.