It’s been approximately two hours since news broke that the great Betty White died. Like many of her fans, we’ll be processing this news as best we can—most likely by watching as many Golden Girls episodes as possible for the foreseeable future. A beloved star whose career spans the entire history of television, White made an indelible impact on entertainment as we know it, delighting fans since she made her debut in the 1940s.
White’s television career cannot be understated, but she was more than Rose Nylund from St. Olaf. Betty White was a cultural institution, appearing on stages and screens throughout the 20th century. Her career only seemed to flourish the older she got, but in reality, she simply never left the spotlight. White always found a new show, a new role, or a new guest spot to fill. Who else could start their own hidden camera prank show at 90? She was an icon and a trailblazer. But most of all, she was very, very funny.
Passing at the age of 99, just 18 days shy of her 100th birthday, White left an impression on fans, friends, and collaborators, leaving the year on a decidedly sullen beat, with the loss of someone many assumed would always be with us. Still, she leaves behind a lifetime of work that many will be able to enjoy and share with new generations, as well as stealing a couple of laughs for themselves.
Online, members of the entertainment business are sharing their memories of and love for the television titan, offering a bit of solace to a world that’s suddenly without any Golden Girls. Read on to see reactions to White’s death and celebrations of her life.
And of course, via a clip from PBS’ American Masters, we give Betty White the final word on her life, work, and love of comedy.