Remembering Betty White: actress, activist, comedian

White was an animal activist, donating to many zoos and even helped save animals during Hurricane Katrina. White shared that if she was not an actor, she would’ve been a zookeeper.

Betty White was an acclaimed actress, model, game show host, and comedian. She recently died at 99 years old, just shy of her 100th birthday. White died from a cerebrovascular accident, previously suffering from a stroke on Christmas day.

With White’s television career spanning over 80 years, she achieved many accolades in her lifetime, including winning numerous awards and nominations from her acting in a wide variety of shows and movies. Unlike many presume, White started her career in the modeling industry in 1939 before she began acting. Four years later, White kicked off her acting career in the film “Time to Kill”, playing the role of “Peter’s girl.” Starting in 1949, she was offered a $50 per week part time job to be a local Los Angeles TV personality, which she quickly accepted. With her quirky personality and wholesome smile, she captivated her audience.

This experience provided White with knowledge of what it was like live on air. With her newfound familiarity with live TV, White launched her first television series, “Life with Elizabeth,” where she stood up for both women and people of color. During the time of segregation, black dancer Arthur Duncan was featured on White’s show. Many wanted Duncan taken off of her show, but White refused, providing Duncan with more on-air time instead.

For the rest of her career, White voiced characters and acted in a variety of shows and movies, including “The Golden Girls,” “The Lorax,” “Hot in Cleveland,” “Toy Story 4,” “The Story of Us,” and many more.

She also participated in a variety of game shows, including “The Match Game,” “Gameshow Marathon,” “$100,000 Pyramid,” and “Password,” where she met the love of her life, Allen Luden who was the game show host.

Not only did White leave a legacy with her sense of humor and witty spirit, she also left a legacy stemming from her kind heart. This was clearly on display through her love of animals, and she was very well known for her animal welfare advocacy. White even stated in an interview in 2014 that if she was not an actor, she would have been a zoo keeper. Not only did she work to improve the lives of people, but she worked to improve the lives of animals even more.

“The only problem with children is that they grow up to be people and I just like animals better than people, ” White said. “It’s that simple.”

Whites love for animals also made an impact after she died, as her fans were encouraged to donate $5 to any local animal charity in Whites name, and in the end, they donated millions of dollars to animal organizations from all around the world. She was also honored at the Los Angeles Zoo on her 100th birthday in the Allen Ludden Plaza (named after her husband). On January 17th, the zoo announced the opening of the Betty White memorial garden to honor all of her contributions to the zoo.

Many peoples’ love for Betty White does not stop at her talented acting and animal advocacy. Fans oftentimes fell in love with her carefree spirit as White often took life lightheartedly. For instance, she never followed diets, was obsessed with Red Vines, and couldn’t resist a can of coke. White also tried to avoid anything green, which appears to have worked fairly well for her, as she lived a long and healthy life.

“I’m a health nut,” White said. “My favorite food is hot dogs with french fries. And my exercise: I have a two-story house and a very bad memory, so I’m up and down those stairs.”

White was also known for volunteering to deliver military supplies during WWII, putting her career on hold to help out the military, transporting military supplies throughout California. Her compassionate heart also led White to start a clothing line at the age of 88 years old with Jerry Lee Apparel, donating the proceeds to the Morris Animal Foundation.

Through White’s many accomplishments, she improved the world for all life forms, sexes, and age groups. She not only loved animals, but put her passion in action to improve many animals’ lives. With her lighthearted temperament and comedic wit, she never failed to put a smile on someone’s face. White’s death is a sorrowful occurrence, but throughout her life, she exemplified the image of compassion, and was more than capable of inspiring everybody who heard her.

“I have no regrets at all,” White said. “None. I consider myself to be the luckiest old broad on two feet.”