Betty White, beloved actress and icon of American television, has died at 99, TMZ reported Friday. 

A source close to White told the site that the Golden Girls star was not ill and suffered no acute medical crisis before her death. She is believed to have died from natural causes early Friday morning in her California home.  

While she had long been the subject of Internet death hoaxes and premature rumors of ill-health, the star’s passing was confirmed by her agent and personal friend Jeff Witjas soon after the TMZ report. 

Betty White Was 99

Her passing comes only weeks before the actress turned 100 years old, just as she was promoting the biographical documentary set to screen in theaters on her birthday. Betty White: 100 Years Young — A Birthday Celebration will no doubt strike a deeper chord with audiences than originally foreseen when it premieres Jan. 17.

White had also recently granted an interview to People magazine, published three days before her passing, in which she said she was ”lucky to be in such good health and feel so good at this age.”

After Betty White died at 99 Friday, stars took to Twitter to mourn the TV icon's passing.
After Betty White died at 99 Friday, stars took to Twitter to mourn the TV icon’s passing. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Iconic Actress Charmed Audiences

The longtime actress’ career predates modern television — she first appeared onscreen way back in 1939 — but White was best known for her role as Rose Nylund on the NBC sitcom The Golden Girls, which ran from 1985 to 1992 and remained culturally relevant through decades of syndication. 

She had been a fixture of American television since the early 1970s, beginning with her breakout stint on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and continuing through the 2000s with her recurring role on Fox’s That ‘70s Show

Most recently, White charmed audiences in the TV Land original sitcom Hot in Cleveland, which ran from 2010 through the 2015 season. 

In film, the actress was known for making cameos and walk-on appearances, as well as dutifully performing in supporting roles. In recent years, White lent her voice to such high-profile animated productions as The Lorax (2012) and Toy Story 4 (2019).

Over the course of a Hollywood career that spanned 80 years, White earned 115 acting credits and was instantly recognizable to Americans of all generations. 

Iconic actress Betty White died at 99 after an 80-year Hollywood career. Iconic actress Betty White died at 99 after an 80-year Hollywood career.
Iconic actress Betty White died at 99 after an 80-year Hollywood career. She’s best known for her TV roles, especially as Rose Nylund on “The Golden Girls.” Photo credit: Shutterstock

Hollywood Remembers the TV Legend

In the People interview published Tuesday, Hollywood stars lauded White’s skillful acting and legendary career. 

“It’s not like she’s just a bubbly, joyful person,” said Cheers alum Ted Danson. “She wakes up every day and chooses to be that way. I think she leads a very purposeful life.”

“Timing isn’t easy in comedy, because you have to navigate other people’s timing,” said Miss Congeniality actress Sandra Bullock, who worked with White on 2009’s The Proposal. “Betty pivots like I have never seen, making it look seamless. The rest of us just remain silent and pray we’re not cut out of the scene.”

Bullock added that she hoped White celebrated her 100th birthday “the same way she has celebrated every day of her life: with humor, kindness and a vodka on ice, toasting to the fact that she’s a badass who has left us all in the dust.”

After news of her death broke on Friday, celebrities and media figures mourned White’s passing. 

“Our world would be better if more followed her example,” wrote journalist Dan Rather. “It is diminished with her passing.”

“A great loss to us all,” said Star Trek legend George Takei. “We shall miss her dearly.”

Comedian Kathy Griffin penned a heartwarming thread, recalling White’s sense of humor and kindness in the 20 years since they first met on the set of NBC sitcom Suddenly Susan

“No matter how long this world continues to spin, there will be only one Betty White,” Griffin wrote. 

Betty White died at 99 years old Friday, likely from natural causes. The iconic actress was promoting an autobiograhpical documentary set to screen on her 100th birthday.
Betty White died at 99 years old Friday, likely from natural causes. The iconic actress was promoting an autobiographical documentary set to screen on her 100th birthday. Photo credit; Shutterstock