Betty White died on Friday, less than three weeks before her 100th birthday. Her career spanned seven decades, beginning with a short film in 1945 called A Time to Kill. Her final movie — released in 2019 — was the appropriately elegiac Toy Story 4. She leaves behind an acting and presenting legacy of 123 movie and TV credits.
The most iconic of these roles were as Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls and her stint on the Mary Tyler More show — but the short, lively, nonagenarian had an enormous C.V. that extended far beyond the screen.
She was also a comedian and the long-time crush of Canadian Pikachu, Ryan Reynolds. She served the U.S. military as part of the American Women’s Voluntary Services during WWII.
In the 70s she created and presented a show called The Pet Set in which celebrities would come on and talk about their furry friends. It ran for two years during which White used the show as a platform for animal rights activism. Betty White continued to advocate for animal rights for the rest of her life.
Her advocacy for animals ranged widely. From on-set work ensuring animals were well treated wherever she was serving as talent. All the way to national campaigns improving the conditions in zoos in the U.S.
Tom Jacobson of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association said after her passing that, “[Betty’s] work with the zoo spans more than five decades, and we are grateful for her enduring friendship, lifelong advocacy for animals, and tireless dedication to supporting our mission.”
In short, she was a treasure of the American show-business establishment. Her passing has been marked by an almost exclusively positive outpouring of reminiscence.
Poker with Betty
On top of all this, she was an avid poker player, with a weekly poker game that ran for decades. She was largely responsible for the scattered poker scenes that appeared in Golden Girls. She spent her 97th birthday trading chips across the table at her regular home game. And when James Corden asked if he could join her regular game, he was turned down.
She will be missed.
White’s poker playing was a largely private affair. The weekly home games did not bleed out into the wider world of Hendon Mob pages or charity tournaments. Even so, in her capacity as a figure in pop culture, she was adored by many a poker player.
“Betty White is awesome,” wrote Daniel Negreanu. “I truly love this woman she is the best. RIP Betty… 99 years old and yet still, gone way too soon.”
Featured image source: Flickr by Loren Javier, used under CC license