MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) -- Iconic television actor Betty White has died. She was 99 years old.
White is known for her role as Rose Nylund in "The Golden Girls," a character that hailed from St. Olaf, Minnesota. The character was a gentle widow, who managed to often misinterpret most situations, and drove her roommates mad with her off-the-wall tales of her childhood.
The show lasted from 1985 until 1992, and proved to be a solid hit. She even visited St. Olaf College in Northfield in the 1990s, and sang with the college choir.
White also made appearances as the character Sue Ann Nivens in the show "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," a fictional comedy set in Minneapolis. What was only planned as a one-shot appearance lasted until the show's end in 1977. With that role, she won two Emmys as a supporting actress in a comedy series.
But her career started much earlier; White holds the record for the longest-running career in television history as a woman, having starred in shows since 1939.
She launched her TV career in daytime talk shows when the medium was still in its infancy and endured well into the age of cable and streaming. Her combination of sweetness and edginess gave life to a roster of quirky characters in shows from the sitcom "Life With Elizabeth" in the early 1950s to "Boston Legal," which ran from 2004 to 2008.
In 2010, after a viral Snickers Super Bowl commercial, her stardom skyrocketed yet again, and a fan-run Facebook campaign called "Betty White to Host SNL (please?)!," took the internet by storm and garnered her an appearance on "Saturday Night Live." With that episode, White won her seventh Emmy award.
Early on, White said she lied about her age. "We are so age-conscious in this country," she said in a 2011 interview with The Associated Press. "It's silly, but that's the way we are. So I was told, 'Knock four years off right now. You'll be blessing yourself down the road.'
"I was born in 1922. So I thought, 'I must always remember that I was born in 1926.' But then I would have to do the math. Finally, I decided to heck with it."
But White would eventually become an icon because of her age, defying expectations in an industry so focused on youth. As 2021 was drawing to a close, the world eagerly looked forward to what would have been her 100th birthday on Jan. 17.
"Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever," close friend an agent Jeff Witjas said to People on Friday. "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."
In 2011, when asked how she had managed to be universally beloved during her decades-spanning career, she summed up with a dimpled smile: "I just make it my business to get along with people so I can have fun. It's that simple."
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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