Betty White loved her fans so much that what her assistant believes to be one of her final pictures captured her recording a message for them. She looked radiant and as happy as ever.
With a career spanning almost eight decades and a larger-than-life personality, Betty White won over the hearts of millions of people worldwide.
White came from Oak Park, Illinois, volunteered for the American Women's Voluntary Services during World War II, and found love in Allen Ludden, her third husband. Sadly, she passed away weeks before her 100th birthday.
Betty White and Carl Reiner shooting "Young & Hungry" in January 2017 [main] White's final photo, posted on Facebook on January 17, 2021 [circle] | Photo: Getty Images - Facebook
BETTY WHITE'S DEATH SURPRISED HER AGENT
The "Golden Girls" star was one of the most influential actresses in Hollywood, earning 21 Emmy Award nominations – her first in 1951 and her last in 2014 – and taking home five.
White also was recognized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1998, received a lifetime achievement at the American Comedy Awards in 1990, the Television Hall of Fame inducted her in 1995, and the Daytime Emmy Awards gave her a lifetime achievement in 2015.
Betty White on June 11, 2009 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images
Unfortunately, White passed away on December 31, 2021. The holder of the Guinness World Record for the Longest TV Career for an Entertainer (Female) would have celebrated her 100th birthday only 18 days later.
Her agent and longtime friend Jeff Witjas confessed that although White was 99, he always believed she would live forever.
Betty White and Allen Ludden pose the game show "Password" on June 28, 1962 | Photo: Getty Images
Witjas added that White was never afraid of dying because she wanted to reunite with Ludden, her true love. Her agent said the animal world that she loved so much would miss her "terribly."
According to White's death certificate, she suffered a stroke on December 25. Witjas then revealed that she passed in her sleep peacefully and without pain.
As expected, the event's guest list was filled with Hollywood stars.
Betty White on March 17, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania | Photo: Getty Images
Some people on social media believed that White's death was related to a coronavirus booster shot she received on December 28, but Witjas denied the rumors. He pointed out that she died of natural causes and asked people not to politicize her death.
Although White's passing broke many hearts, the silver lining is that she had a wonderful approach to death, and she learned it from her mother.
The actress revealed her mom always thought of death as the only secret humanity couldn't crack because nobody knows what happens when we die. So, whenever someone passed away, she would always say, "well, now [they] know the secret."
Betty White on November 22, 2005 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images
WHITE'S 100TH BIRTHDAY WOULD HAVE BEEN HUGE
Shortly before dying, White told People she was lucky to be in "such good health" and feel so good at 99. That's probably why she and her team had a big celebration prepared for her 100th birthday on January 17, 2022, but life had different plans.
In mid-December 2021, White posted a throwback photo on Instagram to let her followers know she would host a special event for her birthday.
The plan was to release a documentary-style movie about her life and career titled "Betty White: 100 Years Young – A Birthday Celebration" on her birthday.
As expected, the event's guest list was filled with Hollywood stars, including Ryan Reynolds, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Tina Fey, Valerie Bertinelli, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and many more.
Several fans were excited and wrote that they would get tickets for the film in the comment section. When White died, the movie's title changed to "Betty White: A Celebration." It still hit theaters on January 17.
Everybody was so sure that White would turn 100 that People published a cover story celebrating the milestone a few days before she died.
After she died, the internet created the #BettyWhiteChallenge.
The magazine's editor-in-chief Dan Wakeford admitted they were "deeply saddened" by the news and honored that White chose to work with them to celebrate her life.
One thing is clear: White never stopped making people laugh. In the People article, she joked that one of the secrets to living a long and happy life was to avoid eating "anything green."
WHITE'S FINAL MESSAGE TO HER BELOVED FANS
On January 17, White's assistant, Kiersten, shared a photo of the 4th honorary Mayor of Hollywood on her verified Facebook page. White appeared wearing white pants, a pale green blouse, and a matching jacket. In the caption, Kiersten wrote:
"On this special day, I wanted to share this photo of Betty. It was taken on 12/20/21. I believe it's one of the last photos of her. She was radiant and beautiful and as happy as ever."
People took to the comment section to say that White made the world "a little more livable" with her laughter. Another Facebook user wrote that White brought kindness to her fans.
Kiersten then told Today that White was dressed up to record videos for her fans about her birthday. The late actress was excited to be "glammed up" and capable of recording messages.
White wanted everybody to know that she was alive and happy. She also wished to thank her fans for supporting her during her life and career. Kiersten said that day was filled with laughter, and White wanted to know what kind of animals Kiersten would have for her birthday.
WHITE DEEPLY LOVED HER FANS
"Betty White: A Celebration" producer Steve Boettcher said that the videos White recorded were like a "tribute" to the fans that would go to the event.
He admitted she looked terrific, and the message was more like a shout-out to her beloved followers done only ten days before passing. Boettcher added:
"She was smiling, and really she wanted to thank her fans sincerely, from the bottom of her heart, for all the support over the years."
Fortunately, her fans loved her back. After she died, the internet created the #BettyWhiteChallenge so that people could donate to animal shelters in the late actress's name.
White's most beloved cause was protecting animals, so the idea caught on, and many participated. Witjas revealed that although White knew it, he would frequently tell her that people were still asking for her.
She never stopped receiving fan letters, and Witjas kept getting offers for her. Witjas believes White never really embraced or felt how loved she was. He constantly reinforced it since he didn't want her to think that the world had passed her by. Rest in peace, legend.