Comedy legend Betty White “died peacefully in her sleep” on New Year’s Eve, less than three weeks before her 100th birthday.
“Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever,” her agent confirmed in a statement. “I will miss her terribly and so will the animal world that she loved so much. I don’t think Betty ever feared passing because she always wanted to be with her most beloved husband Allen Ludden. She believed she would be with him again.”
The “Golden Girl” was the subject of a movie special celebrating her life, “Betty White: 100 Years Young,” which was set to be released on her birthday.
“We will go forward with our plans to show the film on January 17 in hopes our film will provide a way for all who loved her to celebrate her life — and experience what made her such a national treasure,” producers said about the star-studded celebration turned memorial.
Friends and co-stars Ryan Reynolds, Valerie Bertinelli, Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford, and more will appear in the movie.
“The world looks different now. She was great at defying expectation,” Reynolds tweeted after White’s passing. “She managed to grow very old and somehow, not old enough. We’ll miss you, Betty. Now you know the secret.”
“I don’t drink vodka … but I will tonight, on ice, with a slice of lemon with a hot dog on the other side and just be okay being sad,” said fellow “The Proposal” co-star Sandra Bullock. “I’ll have to buy some rose-colored glasses because Betty was that for all of us.”
“Rest in peace, sweet Betty,” wrote “Hot In Cleveland” co-star Valerie Bertinelli. “My God, how bright heaven must be right now.”
“She made us all laugh, including me,” Redford said in a statement. “Betty lived life devoted to her craft and her love of animals. She made us all laugh, including me. I had a crush on her, too!” White recently joked that Redford was “the only one” for her in an interview.
White was born in Oak Park, Illinois in 1922. She joined the American Women’s Voluntary Services during WWII as a military supply truck driver, then became a radio show host in the 1940s. She first appeared on television in 1949 variety show, which she went on to eventually host for four years.
She earned Emmy Awards for her turn on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” joined “Mama’s Family” in 1983, then found her signature role as “terminally naive” Rose in “The Golden Girls.”
White co-founded a production company and became the first woman to ever produce a national television show. She also holds a Guinness World Record for working in television for longer than anyone else, which she earned in 2018.