Betty White: 99 Years and 348 Days

By Susie Adams

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Every year we identify the extraordinary people who moved us over the past 365 days and will continue to inspire us for the next 365.⁣⁣ We celebrate these individuals as our Authentic People of 2021 who demonstrated authenticity, courage, passion, vulnerability, and world-class character.⁣⁣⁣



I’m dating myself here, but I grew up with the Mary Tyler Moore show. I think as a pre-teen it taught me that you can have a career, be a single woman and have best work friends. I loved Mary Richards. My first exposure to Betty White was the unenlightened, man-hungry, bad female friend, Sue Ann Nivens.

I did not love her. She was a mean girl before that was a thing. She was not what a career woman should be. What I didn’t know was that Betty White was a lot more like Mary than Sue Ann. White divorced her second husband because he did not support her career. Go Betty.

I didn’t see much of Betty White again until she played the ditsy Rose Nylund in The Golden Girls. All the Golden Girls were magical, but Rose was special. She was naïve, but savvy. The butt of all jokes, but sometimes the most insightful person in the room. She was loyal and kind. She and her co-stars all won Emmys for their legendary roles. And they taught us about aging with passion and fire.

A Golden Girl

I watched a lot of The Golden Girls during the pandemic. I read somewhere that it is a good show to watch right before you go to sleep; it was relaxing, and I needed that. And I realized that it was a show before its time, taking on issues that are still front and center today – racial discrimination, sexual harassment, addiction, AIDs.

As the years went on, Betty White embraced the strange place where she found herself, a beloved national treasure who stopped us in our tracks any time she trended on Twitter. Watch her videos with Ryan Reynolds, or when she received a lifetime achievement award from Sandra Bullock and roasted Bullock royally. After a quick roast, she went straight into a lovely, inspiring speech in a way only Betty White could. She knew her role as the savvy, sassy grandma for the world and she played it beautifully.

I’m sad that Betty White died a mere 17 days before her 100th birthday, but what a great, full life she had. What a blessing it is to know how beloved you are while you can enjoy it.

Thank You For Being A Friend

One of the great things about Betty White was her love for animals. She did a lot over her lifetime to care for animals including starting the Betty White Wildlife Rapid Response Fund in 2010 following an oil spill. In 2020 alone the fund provided $1 million to support the rescue, rehabilitation and release of animals following wildfires in Australia.

I love the fact that it is trending to make a contribution to an animal rescue or animal welfare organization in honor of her on the 100th anniversary of her birth. It’s always a great day to support the animals, but it’s especially great if you give on January 17 in honor of Betty White.

Watch Some of Our Favorite Betty White Moments

Betty White’s On-Set “Feud” with Ryan Reynolds

Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Speech

Betty White Hosting Saturday Night Live