Betty White: 99 Golden Years

Looking back on the life of Betty White


Paige Bostic

White would have turned 100 on Jan. 17, 2022.

Paige Bostic, Co-Editor-In-Chief of the Ledger

On Dec. 31, 2021, small-screen superstar Betty White passed away at age 99. While the legendary actress is arguably best known for her work as the ditzy yet kindhearted Rose Nylund on NBC’s The Golden Girls, Betty White led a rich and diverse career that spanned a record-setting 79 years.

With what would have been her 100th birthday fast approaching, let’s take a look back at some of Betty White’s most notable work.

1939: Betty White’s love for performing blossomed when she wrote and performed in a graduation play at the Horace Mann school. After the second world war, she worked as a model and radio personality.

1949: White began co-hosting the television show Hollywood on Television, a job that earned her an Emmy nomination. 

1952: She began work on the television show Life With Elizabeth, in which she played the titular role. The show was comprised of various comedy sketches that followed various incidents befalling newlyweds Elizabeth and Alvin (as played by Del Moore). 

1954: White began her own talk show, The Betty White Show. 

Don’t try to be young. Just open your mind. Stay interested in stuff. There are so many things I won’t live long enough to find out about, but I’m still curious about them.

— Betty White

1960s: The superstar appeared as an honored guest on a variety of daytime game shows as well as late-night talk shows. She made her big-screen debut on Advise and Consent

1973: White began her appearances on The Mary Tyler Moore Show as the cynically sweet Sue Ann Nivens. The show ran for four years. 

1983: Betty White won the first Daytime Emmy awarded to a woman in the category of Outstanding Gameshow Host. Just two years later, White started acting in what was arguably her most famous role as The Golden Girls’ Rose Nylund. Rose was the pride of St. Olaf, her Minnesota hometown. The character was a loveable airhead who was renowned for the loyalty and kindness she showed to her friends. The role earned White an Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series. 

1992: After The Golden Girls ended, White made several guest appearances on television shows, winning an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her appearance on The John Larroquette Show in 1996.

Early 2000s: She appeared on various late-night shows where she participated in interviews and comedy sketches. 

2009: White starred in The Proposal, a rom-com that also featured Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock. 

2010: Betty White earned a Primetime Emmy Award for her role as host on Saturday Night Live, as well as setting a record for oldest host.

2012: She produced the prank show Betty White’s Off Their Rockers, which earned three Emmy nominations. 

White’s comedic prowess and time on TV earned her her title of the First Lady of Television for her work on the small screen. While she was a force on camera, she was also a talented voice actress, lending her talents to shows such as SpongeBob Squarepants, King of the Hill, The Simpsons and Mickey Mouse. Her final television role was a supporting role on Disney’s Forky Asks A Question, as the toy tiger aptly named Bitey White. 

Betty White was also interested in the welfare of animals and wanted to be a forest ranger after she graduated from high school. However, she was barred from the position as women were not permitted to be rangers at the time. White’s love of animals was not stifled, though, and she continued supporting various animal welfare organizations throughout the course of her life. 

White’s death proved a sad surprise to her fans over the world. Hundreds of thousands of people publicly acknowledged her death with heavy hearts, including the likes of President Biden and the recently deceased Bob Saget. After the loss of our last Golden Girl, the world is a little bit darker.