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TV’s Golden Girl Betty White dies



Betty White was the old-school Hollywood legend who was still turning down work when she was aged in her 90s. White, who has died at the age of 99, often acknowledged that growing older did not harm her career — it gave her a second wind. Active in television since 1939, White put her long-running success down to old-fashioned perseverance.Her first signature role came in the 1970s, when she appeared as a series regular on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.She then gained greater fame with her role as the wide-eyed Rose Nylund in the Golden Grils. White originally had doubts about her ability to play Rose, until the show’s creator took her aside and told her not to play Rose as stupid but as someone “terminally naive, a person who always believed the first explanation of something.”White joked that she was the “luckiest old broad on two feet” and described the iconic ’80s sitcom as her “big breakthrough”. She was the last of the four Golden Girls to pass away, the other three cast members dying in 2008 (Getty), 2009 (Arthur) and 2010 (McLanahan).“A situation comedy about old women? What is that? I think it changed a lot of the thinking and opened the way for a lot of older women,” White told CNN in 2017. In the same interview, she reminisced about her early days in Hollywood, when comedy was often left to her male colleagues.“It was a little out of character, a little unfeminine, to be … you shouldn’t be funny,” recalled White, noting that women were expected to simply “come in and be pretty”.White countered: “No, it’s so much more fun to get that laugh.”On top of her stellar TV work, White’s exposure widened further with the 2009 movie The Proposal, in which she played an eccentric grandmother. She also thrilled viewers with a Snickers commercial unveiled during the 2010 Super Bowl, in which she played a male football player chastised by his coach for “playing like Betty White out there”. The genius of the ad was revealed when the character ate a Snickers, returning him to his normal state.In a 2011 New York Times profile, the bubbly star was described as “less an active senior than a hyperactive one”. White had just released her memoir If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won’t), and was busy with book tours while filming the sitcom Hot in Cleveland. Wendie Malick, one of her co-stars on Hot in Cleveland, told the New York Times: “White got up as early as 3.30am on some mornings in order to sign a few hundred books before showing up on set.“She’s truly a Midwesterner that way,” Malick said, referring to the place of White’s birth and childhood. “She’s still the girl from Oak Park, Illinois, who was taught to take care of herself, show up on time and do it with the best attitude.”White had two short-lived marriages in the 1940s — to Dick Barker, a US Army Air Corps pilot, and Hollywood agent Lane Allen.She married her third husband, Allen Ludden, in 1963. She described the TV host, who died from stomach cancer in 1981, as the love of her life. In an interview with Larry King, when asked whether she would remarry, she replied by saying “Once you’ve had the best, who needs the rest?”The stepmother to Ludden’s three children, White never had her own children, saying she wasn’t sure she could give them enough time. A passionate animal activist, she devoted her time and energy to her pets. “I’m a workaholic,” she told the NYT, “and I’ve long since given up trying to get over that.”

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