Actress Betty White, who would have turned 100 on January 17, has died at the age of 99.
According to multiple press reports White’s agent and friend Jeff Witjas confirmed her death early in the day on Friday. It appears White died sometime in her home between Thursday night and Friday morning.
She had not been dealing with any illness, although White had been remaining at home because of her advanced age and concerns regarding the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. Although no specific cause of death had been discovered at press time, the general consensus was the final surviving cast member of both “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “The Golden Girls,” passed away from natural causes.
In recent years White had lived in a five bedroom, six bath home located in the Brentwood area of West Los Angeles so she would have easier access to an in-home general assistant and health care provider.
As of late she had been spending most of her time reading, doing crossword puzzles, watching television and making plans for her upcoming 100th birthday celebration.
QNotes carried an article by LGBTQ Nation’s Bill Browning about the upcoming presentation. Fathom productions, which booked the documentary into 900 theaters across the country, indicated later in the day following the announcement of her death that the screening will go forward as planned January 17.
White had long been an icon in the LGBTQ community, chiefly because of her role in the popular series “Golden Girls,” but she was long an advocate for civil rights and a staunch advocate for animal rights, which endeared her to many.
She was much loved around the globe for a career that dated back to the 1950s and included “Life with Elizabeth” “The Betty White Show,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and, more recently, “Hot in Cleveland.”
It was during the 1954 television series “The Betty White Show” the actress took a stand in the fight for civil rights. White had invited her friend Arthur Duncan, a Black dancer and singer, to appear on a few episodes of the variety talk show. Much to her surprise, she received enumerable complaints from white separatist viewers of the time, who demanded that Duncan make no further appearances on the program. “Some of them resented me being on the show [with him] and wanted me thrown out. It was never a question at all. I said, ‘I’m sorry, but he stays. Live with it!'”
While White’s LGBTQ following reached its zenith with “Golden Girls,” it clearly began with the oversexed character Sue Ann Nivens she played on the “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”
Well aware of her popularity in the gay community, she was never hesitant to return the love. In a 2010 interview with Parade Magazine she expressed her support for same-sex marriage.
“I don’t care who anybody sleeps with,” she told Parade. “If a couple has been together all that time – and there are gay relationships that are more solid than heterosexual ones – I think it’s fine if they want to get married. I don’t know how people can get so anti-something. Mind your own business, take care of your affairs and don’t worry about other people so much.”