Betty White, Star of ‘The Golden Girls,’ Dies at 99

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After the war, she found work on the radio comedy The Great Gildersleeve “sometimes with a line or two, sometimes just to furnish ‘crowd noise.’” After a stint hosting The Betty White Show, in 1949 she moved into television, co-hosting the live daily show Hollywood on Television. Three years later she was hosting the show by herself and in 1951 was nominated for her first Emmy Award, for Best Actress on Television, the year of the category’s launch.

At 31, she was one of the first-ever women to produce a sitcom, Life with Elizabeth (1952-1955), a comedy about a young married couple in which she played the devilishly delightful wife. Although she at first feared a 30-minute show would “fall flat in the middle,” White later joked in an interview with PBS: “Funny thing, half-hour situation comedy somehow has been done again I guess, hasn’t it?”

Beyond sitcoms, she had a notable career as a voice actor in animated films, including roles as Noriko in Ponyo (2008) and Grammy Norma in The Lorax (2012). Film roles included the rain-dancing Grandma Annie in The Proposal (2009), and in 2010, her co-star Sandra Bullock presented her with the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award. “I should be presenting an award to you for the privilege of working in this wonderful business all this time,” she told the audience. “And you still can’t get rid of me.”

“The year 2010 turned into the wildest one yet,” White wrote in her book Here We Go Again: My Life in Television, written that same year. Aged 88, she became the oldest person ever to host Saturday Night Live after 50,000 people rallied for her appearance via Facebook. “That’s more people than I’ve dated,” she quipped on The Ellen Show the same year. She ended up kissing the actor Bradley Cooper while hosting the SNL episode, which also scored her a fifth Emmy Award.

This pop culture comeback first began after White won over the Super Bowl audience starring as a mud-splattered, floral sweater-wearing football player in a Snickers commercial. She later took on the role as a caretaker in the TV show Hot in Cleveland, notching up yet another Emmy nomination. White was a regular on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and in 2015, prank-called James Corden ahead of her appearance on The Late Late Show. “I hope you don’t think I’m too fresh for calling you,” she began, before making requests for lighting changes, dressing room changes, and yellow M&Ms.



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