Betty White has passed away at the age of 99 just three weeks ahead of her milestone 100th birthday, and the news has sent shockwaves through Hollywood.
Celebrities began to flood social media with tributes for the legendary TV icon, who is said to have died at her home on Friday.
She was not battling an particular ailments and did not have a sudden illness, a source close to the star told TMZ.
Betty White tributes: Celebrities react to TV icon passing away at 99… days before her milestone 100th birthday (Pictured above in 2010)
Reynolds, who had just been joking with White over social media a day prior, posted a picture to his Instagram of the actress.
‘The world looks different now. She was great at defying expectation. She managed to grow very old and somehow, not old enough. We’ll miss you, Betty,’ he wrote.
Star Trek actor George Takei wrote: ‘Our national treasure, Betty White, has passed just before her 100th birthday.’
‘Our Sue Ann Nivens, our beloved Rose Nylund, has joined the heavens to delight the stars with her inimitable style, humor, and charm. A great loss to us all. We shall miss her dearly.’
Talk show host Seth Meyers said: ‘RIP Betty White, the only SNL host I ever saw get a standing ovation at the after party. A party at which she ordered a vodka and a hotdog and stayed til the bitter end.’
Tributes: Getting emotional, actress Jennifer Love Hewitt posted a video of herself crying on Instagram
Bravo star Andy Cohen tweeted: ‘Tonight we will raise MANY glasses to the WONDERFUL legacy of Betty White!!!’
Getting emotional, actress Jennifer Love Hewitt posted a video of herself crying with the message: ‘Heartbroken. My angel. My idol. My friend. I miss you already.’
The pair starred in the 2011 Hallmark film The Lost Valentine together and became fast friends.
In February this year, Hewitt revealed how they had enjoyed a drunken night out together.
‘She’s everything you want her to be and more,’ Hewitt said on The Drew Barrymore Show. ‘She’s the best and I just love her to pieces.’
Oscar-nominated songwriter Diane Warren said: ‘A few yrs ago at an animal charity event I bid on a day at the zoo with Betty White.’
‘Not only was she a legend but a fierce advocate for animal rights. Both the humans and the animals are so sad today Betty.’
Gone but not forgotten: Ryan Reynolds, who had just been joking with White over social media a day prior, posted a picture to his Instagram of the actress
Just a few days ago – in an interview about her upcoming centennial year – White said she was ‘so lucky to be in such good health and feel so good at this age’.
White was last seen in public running errands with her driver just the day before her birthday 98th birthday. She was seen sporting a turquoise floral blouse, matching pants and tiny black heels and flashed a smile for the camera as she wore a bold red lip.
Shortly after, she began limiting contact with others to avoid contracting COVID-19. Last year, when the virus first surged, she said she was ‘relaxing through her quarantine’ at her residence in Los Angeles.
The star’s essential errands, like groceries, were being taken care of for her so she wouldn’t have to leave her house. Additionally, she was ‘only coming in contact with people being equally cautious of the virus’ and respected her state’s stay-at-home orders.
‘What an exceptional life’: Many marveled at White’s 80-year-long career in Hollywood (Pictured, 1974)
She leaves behind a massive legacy as a comedienne, actress, author, animal rights activist and one of the first female pioneers in television.
‘Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever,’ her agent and close friend Jeff Witjas said in a statement issued to People.
‘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 was known for her optimism and positivity. On her 96th birthday she credited ‘vodka and hot dogs’ for her longevity and added that trips up and down the stairs of her two-story house kept her in shape. Most importantly, she said: ‘It’s your outlook on life that counts. If you take yourself lightly and don’t take yourself too seriously, pretty soon you can find the humor in our everyday lives.’
When she was awarded the Guinness World Record for longest TV career for a female entertainer in 2014, she said: ‘I have no regrets at all. None. I consider myself to be the luckiest old broad on two feet.’
White was born in Oak Park, Illinois on January 17, 1922. Her legal name, ‘Betty’ is not a shortened version of ‘Elizabeth’ because her parents did not want their daughter saddled by any derivatives and nicknames like Beth, Liza and Ellie.
White was an only child and liked it that way, she remembers her blissfully happy childhood as ‘spoiled rotten, but taught to appreciate it.’
Her family moved to Los Angeles in 1923 when she was just over a year old. She attended Beverly Hills High School and though she was interested in theater she said, her dream was to become a zookeeper or forest ranger. ‘The problem was, back then a girl wasn’t allowed to be either one,’ she wrote in her autobiography.
She started her entertainment career in radio in the late 1930s and by 1939 had made her TV debut singing on an experimental channel in Los Angeles.
After serving in the American Women’s Voluntary Service, which helped the US effort during World War Two, she was a regular on Hollywood on Television, a daily five-hour live variety show, in 1949.