Betty White’s death at 99 shocks fans, celebrities. ‘Thought she would live forever’

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Betty White, a beloved actress and Hollywood icon, is dead at 99, media outlets report.

White, who was adored as much for her personality off-screen as her performances on camera, was just weeks away from turning 100.

“Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever,” her agent, Jeff Witjas, told People magazine in a statement on Friday, Dec. 31. “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.”

Fans and celebrities alike took to social media to express their grief, and to honor a career and life unlike any other.

White had an enduring career. Starting from the Golden Era of Hollywood in the 1940s, she continued finding steady work decade after decade, IMDb credits show — but her perhaps most iconic role came in the 1980s, where she starred as Rose Nylund in the hit show “The Golden Girls.”

She put her well-honed comedic talents to work again in the TV Land series “Hot in Cleveland,” and most recently, White lent her voice to the Toy Story movie series as the character “Bitey White.”

Prior to launching a career in acting, White also volunteered to serve the American war effort during World War II, driving supplies to stateside bases, Deadline reported.

In 1954, White courted controversy by wielding her influence to hire Arthur Duncan, an African American performer, for “The Betty White Show” on NBC, according to Deadline.

Many viewers called for Duncan’s removal but — despite it being early in her hard-earned career — White refused to back down; a decision that likely contributed to the show being canceled within the year.

White remained in the public consciousness seemingly at all times with little effort — her wit and warmth elevating her to that of a national treasure, whether she intended it or not.

As if to underscore her iconic status, even the dictionary had words to share about White.

With her 100th birthday approaching on Jan. 17, White spoke with People magazine for a story published Dec. 28 — just three days before her death — reflecting on her life.

“I’m so lucky to be in such good health and feel so good at this age,” she told the outlet. She’s a born optimist, White said, a trait she inherited from her mother. “I always find the positive.”

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