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Television Legend Betty White Dead at 99

The last remaining Golden Girls star was just shy of her 100th birthday.

Betty White at the 1988 Emmy Awards.
(© Alan Light)

Beloved television star Betty White died at her Los Angeles home this morning. She was 99. TMZ broke the story.

White is best known for her multiple television appearances in an entertainment career that spanned the better part of a century. Following her graduation from Beverly Hills High School in 1939, she began a career in radio before moving into the still-nascent world of television. In 1954, she hosted and produced The Betty White Show, her own daily variety show on NBC (the title was shared with an earlier radio program).

She gained widespread recognition for playing Sue Ann Nivens, the "Happy Homemaker" on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. That performance earned her two Primetime Emmy Awards, which she won back-to-back in 1975 and 76. She won a third Emmy in 1986 (this time for Lead Actress) for playing Rose Nylund in the popular sitcom, The Golden Girls. A classic of the genre, the show followed a quartet of cheesecake-loving retirees sharing a house in Miami. In addition to White, it starred Bea Arthur, Estelle Getty, and Rue McClanahan.

White enjoyed a resurgence of popularity late in life: In 2010, at the age of 88, she became the oldest person to ever host Saturday Night Live, a historic moment ironically prompted by a spontaneous social media campaign. That same year she began the first of six seasons as Elka Ostrovsky in the TV Land sitcom Hot in Cleveland.

She was about to celebrate her 100th birthday on January 17, and spoke to People about the occasion for a cover story: "I'm so lucky to be in such good health and feel so good at this age," she told the magazine.

While she never appeared on Broadway, White had plenty of friends on the Great White Way and will be missed by the theater community.

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