Culture

Betty White was ‘happy’ at the end of her life: ‘She lived a life that she chose’

Patrick Kelleher January 2, 2022
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Betty White in 2011.

Betty White in 2011. (Bob Riha, Jr./Getty)

Betty White was “happy” at the end of her life – and she knew how much she was adored by her legion of fans, her longtime agent and close friend has said.

There was an outpouring of grief on Friday (31 December) when news broke that White had died at the age of 99, just weeks before she was due to celebrate her 100th birthday.

Speaking to People, Betty White’s agent Jeff Witjas said the Golden Girls legend was content at the end of her life – and he said he thinks she knew how much the world loved her.

“Betty lived a great life and she lived a life that she chose,” Witjas said. “She was happy.

“Every time I told her, ‘Betty, you’re loved,’ she would look at me with a wry smile and say, ‘Really?’ I hope she knew. I think she did. It was something beyond love.”

Witjas described White as “an incredible lady” who was “hard to put into words”. The COVID-19 pandemic meant that she spent most of her time at home over the last two years, he said.

Betty White ‘didn’t go out’ towards the end of her life because of COVID-19

“She didn’t go out. She was under a doctor’s care, not for any reason, other than just being careful with COVID,” he said.

“I know there was a period where she would address all the fan letters,” he said, adding that that eventually slowed down.

“I think, she just didn’t have the energy to respond the way she used to,” Witjas said. “She was reading, she just lived her life. She was home in her comfortable surroundings.”

Witjas also revealed the heartbreaking reason White – a renowned animal lover and activist – didn’t have a dog at the end of her life.

Her golden retriever, called Pontiac, died a few years ago. White ultimately chose not to get another dog as she was afraid it would outlive her, meaning nobody would be there to care for it.

“And I would kid her,” Witjas said. “I said, ‘Betty, you’re outliving everybody. You’re not going anywhere.’ But she was so sensitive to animals.”

White was affectionately known as the First Lady of Hollywood during her lifetime. Her career spanned numerous decades, and she worked longer in television than anyone else.

She starred on the CBS sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show from 1973 to 1977, but she is best remembered today for her performance as Rose Nylund in The Golden Girls.

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