On New Year’s Eve, we lost a legend: Betty White, weeks shy of her 100 birthday.
She was America’s sweetheart the moment her career began in the late 1930s. As the years went on, she cemented herself as Hollywood royalty with 33 films and 118 television shows under her belt, including Life with Elizabeth, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Golden Girls, and Hot in Cleveland. Even if one somehow never saw a single thing Betty White stared in, they knew her for her quick-wit, unexpected quips, and primarily, her kindness. We’ve all seen the meme: that Betty White is actually older than sliced bread, so the saying should really be “sliced bread is the best thing since Betty White.”
Other than acting, Betty White was known for her love of animals. It is a love that was fueled in her childhood by her parents’ propensity to take in animals in need, and their frequent hiking trips. She dreamt of being a forest ranger as a child, but acting pulled her away from the career—though she once said she had her acting career to support her love of animals.
Betty White with some of her pets. Credit: NBC.
“The world looks different now,” Ryan Reynolds, who acted alongside white in The Proposal, posted on Twitter. “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 was a supporter of various animal advocate organizations across the country—namely the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association, the Morris Animal Foundation, Actors & Others for Animals, and the Betty White Wildlife Fund.
The world was not done honoring the icon, however. On January 17, what would have been White’s 100 birthday, a hashtag swept across the internet: the #BettyWhiteChallenge. To show respect for the late actress’s life and work, people everywhere donated to an animal charity of their choice. More than 390,000 people donated to various fundraisers, raising a total of $12.7 million dollars.
Major organizations and local charities alike benefited from the #BettyWhiteChallenge. Actors & Others For Animals specifically launched a campaign asking donors to give $100 to represent her birthday. Others donated what they could, as any donation to a cause makes a world of difference. Two Philadelphia shelters reported that they collected $100,000. A zoo charity in Los Angeles collected $70,000. A shelter in Arkansas received $12,000, and an Iowa shelter received $13,000.
Credit: Tad Motoyama
A video from the late Betty White released on her birthday.
“We want to THANK EVERYONE who contributed to Actors and Others in honor of Betty White’s 100th birthday,” Actors & Others for Animals says in a statement. “We know Betty would be bowled over by the overwhelming response to help so many animals and organizations.”
Betty White was not done giving, however. Her social media team posted a video she recorded days before her death in honor of her upcoming 100 birthday. In a particularly poignant chat now, White thanks her fans for all the love and support she received over the years.
Credit: Tad Motyoma
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