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Comedy Legend Betty White Dies At 99

Betty White stands in a gold floral shirt smiling in front of an orange promotional background for the movie version of the Dr. Seuss book The Lorax
Actress Betty White at the 2012 premiere of "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax" at Citywalk.
(Kevin Winter
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Comedy legend Betty White has died at the age of 99, according to a statement her friend and agent Jeff Witjas gave to People. The magazine features her upcoming 100th birthday on the cover of its latest issue. She would have hit the centennial mark on Jan. 17.

White had a special place in Los Angeles, spending much of her life here after moving to Southern California from Illinois.

“I was born ... across the street from Chicago in Oak Park,” White told Patt Morrison on KPCC in May 2011. “But I came out to Los Angeles when I was a year and a half. I don't think we were a state yet. I think we were still a territory at that, that long ago. But … this has been home forever.”

She spent decades co-hosting the Rose Parade broadcast and was named honorary mayor of Hollywood back in 1955.

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White got her start in radio as a child actress in the 1930s before making a splash on TV as the lead of Life with Elizabeth in the early '50s, a show she also produced. She was a beloved character on The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the 1970s, before her most iconic role as the naive Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls in the late 1980s and early '90s.

White remained active into her 90s, including starring in Hot in Cleveland from 2010-15. She also provided voices in recent years, including "Bitey White" in 2019's Toy Story 4 and the Disney+ series Forky Asks a Question.

White resonated from generation to generation.

“I think I've been around so long that the generations … I’ve been in their family for so long. That now the little kids …. they've remembered me forever,” White told Morrison. “And then their parents, and then their parents. And I think I'm into great grandparents now.”

She became a ubiquitous pop culture presence as just herself, including years guest-hosting early episodes of The Tonight Show and numerous game show appearances. She won over audiences with her pleasant, disarming Midwestern manner, combined with a sharp wit. White later became a fan favorite elderly presence at awards shows, in commercials, and was the focus of a fan campaign to have her host Saturday Night Live, which she did in 2010 .

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The Television Academy honored her with numerous Emmy nominations, including multiple wins.

Age, to White, was just a number. Fretting over growing old was something she never picked up, thanks to her mother.

“I bet you … knew people as I did in high school, they were planning on being old. They just started growing old in high school," White told Morrison. "It was always, Oh, I'm 20 I'm going to be 30, Oh, I'm 30, I'm going to be 40. And I had a wonderful mother … who took age in stride. She never cared who knew how old she was. It was never a concern.”

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