A cultural cornerstone of television history, eight-time Emmy awardee Betty White passed away on New Year’s Eve of 2021, less than three weeks before her 100th birthday. At 9:30am on the morning of December 31st, officers from the Los Angeles Police Department responded to calls concerning a “natural death investigation” at the actress’s home in Brentwood, California. A short time later, White’s agent and close friend Jeff Witjas confirmed the unfortunate news to press, stating:
“Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever. 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 beloved husband, Allen Ludden. She believed she would be with him again.”
Betty White is best remembered by her roles in two beloved American sitcoms: The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and The Golden Girls. Her career as an actress dawned alongside the birth of television itself, with her first TV appearance coming just months before the technology of television was initially introduced at the New York World’s Fair. Her flourishing legacy in the eight decades since has been the subject of mass discussion and celebration in the weeks following her passing, and fans can now take a deep dive into her historical work through a new documentary entitled Betty White: A Celebration.
Betty White: A Celebration is the latest work of production duo Steve Boettcher and Mike Trinklein and will mark what would have been White’s 100th birthday milestone. Packed with new never-before-seen interviews filmed prior to the actress’s passing, the film will take viewers on a journey through her trailblazing career and the beloved legacy she leaves behind. Fans can catch the film’s premiere as it heads to theaters nationwide, for one day only on Monday, January 17th. Several additional specials will be airing to honor the work of “America’s Golden Girl”, including Betty White Goes Wild: a National Geographic documentary produced in tangent with Disney, set to release on the Disney+ streaming platform this Friday, January 14th.
Produced in 2013, the tv-docufilm features White on a journey through the Los Angeles and San Diego zoos, as she learns about the lives of majestic big cats, and the environmental perils they face. The film’s re-release is a testament to White’s deep-seated love for animals: the actress having served as a vocal advocate for animals’ rights throughout the years. In light of her passing, fans are following in her footsteps with the launch of a social media campaign called “The Betty White Challenge”: an online event set for January 17th, encouraging followers to donate $5 to their local animal rescues in honor of Betty herself.