“Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever,” her agent Jeff Witjas told Deadline. “I will miss her terribly and so will the animal world that she loved so much. I don’t think Betty ever feared passing because she always wanted to be with her most beloved husband Allen Ludden. She believed she would be with him again.”
White got her start in the 1930s (she was all of eight years old when she made her professional debut on the radio program Empire Builders) and was a frequent presence on television throughout the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, including hosting Hollywood on Television and playing Sue Ann on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
But she’s best known for her performance as Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls, which aired from 1985 to 1992. “We showed up for the read through [and] it was like batting a tennis ball over the net. It was so exciting to be with four people with that chemistry — I’ll never forget that first read,” White once said about her co-stars Beatrice Arthur, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty on the NBC sitcom. “It was like we had been working together forever! I still get goosebumps thinking about it.”
In recent years, she starred on TV Land’s wildly popular Hot in Cleveland, guest starred on countless shows (including The Simpsons, Community, and SpongeBob SquarePants), and focused on animal advocacy. “White worked on many charitable projections involving animal disease research. She served for three years as the president of the Morris Animal Foundation and served on the board of trustees for the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Assn,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.
R.I.P. to a legend.