Monday, May 27, 2024

Beloved Actress, Activist Betty White Dies at 99, Famous For “The Golden Girls,” Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Being Herself


Three weeks before her 100th birthday, Betty White has died. She was 99 and 9/10.

A huge animal activist, Betty was probably the most beloved of all Hollywood celebrities. An actress with numerous awards for “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “The Golden Girls,” she’d become famous on the game show “Password,” when she met her husband, Allen Ludden.

Betty won five Primetime Emmy Awards: two for playing Sue Anne Nivens, the Happy Homemaker, on “MTM.” Two more for playing ditzy Rose Nylund on “The Golden Girls.” And one more for guest hosting “Saturday Night Live” in 2010 after a public outcry to get her on the show. She had over a dozen nominations throughout her career, her last three being in 2012, 2014, and 2015 for a reality show she hosted. Her first Emmy nomination was in 1951!

What a life she lived. Her marriage to Ludden was cut short when he died of cancer and she never remarried. She just refocused her life on her animal activism, which was known worldwide. And in 1974, with Cloris Leachman leaving “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” as acerbic Phyllis, White was introduced as man-crazy Happy Homemaker Sue Anne Nivens, a Martha Stewart before her time. Producers were so jarred by White’s makeover from “Password” princess to edge Sue Anne they hired her immediately.

A few years later, White’s other high point came when she joined Bea Arthur, Estelle Getty, and Rue McClanahan in “The Golden Girls.” Her Rose was from Minnesota, was Norwegian, and had endless, pointless, and hilarious stories about growing up with that background. With those two shows, White left her mark permanently on the history and culture of television.

Two days ago People magazine ran a funny story about Betty and her “The Proposal” co-star Ryan Reynolds. I doubt Betty was giving quotes or interviews, but it was still cute. And the perfect way to exit.





Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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