Betty White found gold on the small screen, smiling all the way. Along with upending expectations.
Betty White: Now that was a career. And that was a pro, adored by millions who appreciated comic skill and the ability to get the last laugh.
The Oak Park native, who died Dec. 31 just weeks before her 100th birthday, was the daughter of a homemaker and a lighting company executive. She became a Californian when she was just a year old, after the family’s move to Alhambra, California, a few miles from downtown Los Angeles. She worked in radio — first in 1930, at age eight! — and would seek out radio gigs as she grew older, having already been dismissed as “unphotogenic” by Hollywood casting agents.
Over the next half century and more, White avenged that idiotic mischaracterization by wielding one of the greatest, most recognized smiles in American television. She did so across a remarkable spectrum of vivacious sincerity and subtly wicked parody, supported by timing and presence and craft that came together as a natural force as it has for precious few others.
We know her for so much long-running situation comedy: As Rose Nylund, of St. Olaf, Minnesota, on “The Golden Girls”; as Elka Ostrosky on “Hot in Cleveland”; and as Sue Ann Nivens, star of “The Happy Homemaker” on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”
Screening event for Betty White’s 100th birthday will go on
Betty White was weeks away from her 100th birthday and planned a big celebration. White, who died Friday, would have turned 100 on Jan. 17. A movie event planned prior to her death to mark the occasion will go on as planned, according to producers of the film “Betty White: 100 Years Young — A Birthday Celebration.”
“Our hearts mourn today with the passing of Betty White. During the many years we worked with her, we developed a great love and admiration for Betty as a person, and as an accomplished entertainer,” film producers Steve Boettcher and Mike Trinklein said in a statement to CNN. “We are thankful for the many decades of delight she brought to everyone. Betty always said she was the ‘luckiest broad on two feet’ to have had a career as long as she did. And honestly, we were the lucky ones to have had her for so long.”
“We will go forward with our plans to show the film on January 17 in hopes our film will provide a way for all who loved her to celebrate her life—and experience what made her such a national treasure,” Boettcher and Trinklein said.
Mary Steenburgen Remembers Betty White After Her Death: She ‘Radiated Joy and Gratitude’
“Betty White radiated joy and gratitude and was enthusiastically a lover of animals, laughter, life and people. In that order,” Steenburgen says. “I used to stare at her in the mornings in makeup trailer when she wasn’t looking. Trying to breathe in her magic. I’m doing that today.”
US Army pays tribute to Betty White’s World War II volunteer service: ‘A true legend on and off the screen’
While millions of fans mourn the beloved television star Betty White, who passed away on Friday at the age of 99, the US Army paid tribute to the comedian for one of her earliest and most significant roles — as a volunteer during World War II.
White found work modeling in the late 1930s, but put her larger aspirations on hold during World War II in order to work with the American Women’s Voluntary Services (AWVS) in 1941. The AWVS sent female volunteers to take on roles including firefighting, ambulance and truck driving, and aerial photography.
During an interview with Cleveland magazine in 2010, White said that her assignment consisted of driving a PX truck of supplies to barracks in the Hollywood Hills — while attending dances for departing troops at night.
Betty White knew the secret to longevity: Make ‘em laugh.
“I’m so lucky to be in such good health and feel so good at this age,” the “Hot in Cleveland” star added. “It’s amazing.”
White also credited being “born a cockeyed optimist” as her secret to longevity, noting she “got it from [her] mom.” “I always find the positive,” she said in the interview that was part of her 100th birthday celebration.
Her positivity was exactly what her celebrity pals thought blessed the beloved star with a long and fruitful life. Having over 120 acting credits to her name, White was a showbiz whiz who knew just how to crack a joke. “It’s not like she’s just a bubbly, joyful person. She wakes up every day and chooses to be that way,” Ted Danson, 68, said. “I think she leads a very purposeful life.”
Image courtesy Getty Images, WireImage and Huffington Post