SciFi.radio regrets to confirm the death of Hollywood Legend Betty White. The actress, author, and animal advocate was only a few weeks shy of her 100th birthday.
Betty Marion White was born January 17, 1922 in Oak Park, Cook County, Illinois, USA. Her career as an actress and comedienne stretched over seven decades, from radio to TV to movies. Like Star Trek‘s godmother, Lucille Ball, she was one of the first women to exercise control behind the camera.
Betty White died at her home in Los Angeles, Friday morning, December 31, 2021, passing away of natural causes.
With such a long, varied career, if you asked ten people which is her best known role, you’d get ten different answers. She played Mrs. Claus, Santa’s wife, four times: in Disney’ s Prep and Landing, Anything Can Happen at Christmas, The Story of Santa Claus, and Noddy.
She of course played played Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She co-starred as Rose Nylund on Golden Girls.
She starred in three separate TV shows entitled The Betty White Show (1954, 1977-1978). She starred as Elka Ostrovsky on Hot in Cleveland. As well as the Grand Dame of Television, she was also called the First Lady of Game Shows. She appeared in all four versions of Password. She was also a frequent guest on Match Game, $25,000 Pyramid, Tattletales, Tell the Truth, and Hollywood Squares. Betty White produced and starred in the Fifties sitcom, Life with Elizabeth, for which she won her the first of her eight Emmy Awards. She was even given the Honorary Mayor of Hollywood in 1955.
I knew her best as Sue Ann Nivens, on the Mary Tyler Moore Show, or Mrs. Claus. My father’s favorite of her roles was Joyce Whitman in The Betty White Show, co-starring John Hillerman, which only lasted fourteen episodes. My son’s favorite of her roles was when she guest starred as Dr. Beth Mayer in two episodes of Bones.
From radio, she moved on to television and eventually into movies and cartoon voicework. Betty White co-starred in the movie Lake Placid (1999) as Dorothy Bickerman. Her first feature film was Advise and Consent, starring Henry Fonda Burgess Meredith, VCharles Laughton, and Walter Pidgeon. Betty White played Senator Bessie Adams, a character loosely based on Margaret Chase Smith.
Her final film was Toy Story 4, where she voiced Bitey White, a toy stuffed tiger. She reprised the role in her final performance in Pixar’s short Forky Asks a Question.
Other Voice Roles
- Agatha MacLeish in Pound Puppies
- Grammy Norma in The Lorax
- Gary’s mother in Gary the Rat
- Grandma Sophie in The Thornberries
- Dorothy in The Lionhearts
- The goddess Hestia in Disney’s Hercules TV series
- Yoshie in the Disney release of Ghibli’s Ponyo
Betty White was married three times, but her true love was Allen Ludden. Her first husband was Dick Barker, an Army pilot. They married in 1945, but divorced the same year. Her second husband was talent agent and actor Lane Allen. They married in 1947 and divorced two years later. Her third husband and the love of her life was game show host Allen Ludden. They were married in 1963 and remained together until his death in 1981.
An official at San Diego Zoo once asked, why Betty White, a known animal lover who was an active member of the Los Angeles Zoo, never came to the San Diego Zoo. A member of her fan club, Bett’s Pets, explained that while Hollywood superstar Betty White visited LA Zoo often, animal lover Mrs. Ludden came to San Diego Zoo occasionally, quietly.
Good night, Betty. We’re really really going to miss you.
Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as short stories in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, “Supernatural Colorado”, “Barbarian Crowns”, “Cat Tails””Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions, Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.