As word spread on Friday that beloved actress Betty White had died at age 99, hordes of the most powerful and famous people in the world cried out in admiration and remembrance of her.
On Twitter, actor Ryan Reynolds wrote: “The world looks different now. She was great at defying expectation. She managed to grow very old and somehow, not old enough. We’ll miss you, Betty. Now you know the secret.”
White’s first appearance onstage came while she was a student at Beverly Hills High School and cast herself in a play she wrote. She worked as a model before serving as a stateside volunteer during World War II. Following the war, White worked in radio, eventually making her way into the nascent television industry. White became known for her humor and wit, which she said wasn’t common for women actors at the time.
At the age of 51, White landed a role on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She subsequently appeared in a long string of popular sitcoms, including her role as Midwesterner Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls, beginning in 1985.
Kevin Wassong, who worked as a development associate at Witt/Thomas/Harris Productions during the final season of The Golden Girls from 1991 to 1992, said the news came as a blow.
“Betty White was everything that you saw on television,” Wassong told The Daily Beast. “She was the nicest, sweetest, most authentic person that you could know.”
White spent the last decades of her life as a cast member of numerous series, showing up as a recurring character on The Simpsons, and hosting Saturday Night Live in 2010 at the age of 88.
Through it all, she exuded a homespun yet sophisticated charm that endeared her to generation after generation of fans.
“I’d like to be remembered as Betty, their good friend that they invite into their home,” White told the Television Academy Foundation in a 2009 interview.
She shared her secret to a long life in a 2014 appearance on The Queen Latifah Show, attributing her staying power to hot dogs.
“People think, ‘Oh, that’s junk food,’” said White. “Not if you live on it.”