Betty White, America’s Grandmother

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Betty White as a nominee for the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series at the 1988 Emmy Awards.

Isabella Yakich, Staff Writer

Betty White, America’s beloved Golden Girl, passed away on December 31, 2021,  just three weeks shy of her 100th birthday. Some know her as Rose Nylund in Golden Girls, Sue Ann Nivens from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Bea Sigurdson in That 70’s Show, or recognize her as America’s Grandmother. White was truly a national treasure that will be deeply missed, but her legacy will continue for generations to come. 

Six days prior to her passing, Betty White suffered from a stroke, her ultimate cause of death. Her longtime friend and agent, Jeff Witjas, confirmed to ABC News that she had passed away peacefully in her sleep. 

On December 23, 2021, the People Magazine issue of “Betty White Turns 100” hit the newsstands in preparation for the celebration of her Birthday. The issue includes an interview with White asking her about her secrets for a long and joyful life. Betty White was clear with one thing: she tried to avoid anything green. She told People Magazine, “I’m so lucky to be in such good health and feel so good at this age, it’s amazing.” 

Born on January 17, 1922, in Oak Park, Betty White grew up as an only child. In White’s early career after her high school graduation, she started being offered jobs onstage and in radio. Her breakthrough came later in her life with her work on The Mary Tyler Moore Show airing from 1973 to 1977, for which she won two of her Emmys. White’s favorite role was playing Rose Nylund in Golden Girls. She was the last living member of the show’s four stars.

Golden Girls was one of those shows where every group of girls could relate to a character in some way. The character that Betty White played in that show was very ditzy, which I found humorous because she was also the smartest of the characters,” said McGrath, a High School Teacher.

Throughout this American icon’s life, she achieved many accomplishments. She received 17 Emmy nominations, and 7 Emmy wins. In 2014, the Guinness World Records book certified White as the longest TV career for a female entertainer, spanning over 74 years of work in the industry. One of her most known and surprising appearances was as a host for the Saturday Night Live Mother’s Day eve edition on May 8, 2010, at the age of 88. Along with her successful career, she published two books. The first, If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won’t), was a collection of essays and anecdotes about her life and career. The second, Betty & Friends: My Life at the Zoo, was about her devotion to animals and her close relationship with the Los Angeles Zoo.

In an interview, Betty White comments on this passion for animal welfare, “I’m the luckiest person in the world. My life is divided in absolute half: half animals, half show business,” White once told TV Guide. “I have to stay in show business to pay for my animal work!” 

“The most charming thing about Betty White is how she did so much more outside of her career through her work with helping animals,” McGrath said. To commemorate White’s 100th Birthday on January 17, 2022, people were encouraged to donate to their local animal shelters. The ‘Betty White Challenge,’ which started with just a few individuals promoting kindness to a cause that was near and dear to her, raised $12.7 million for animal shelters throughout the country. Betty White’s death was heartbreaking news for America, her legacy will continue to be recognized as it has already begun to make an impact by the money raised on social media.