Betty White dies at 99

By Fernando Alfonso III and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 6:58 p.m. ET, December 31, 2021
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4:50 p.m. ET, December 31, 2021

Screening event for Betty White's 100th birthday will go on

From CNN's Marianne Garvey and Lisa France

Betty White was weeks away from her 100th birthday and planned a big celebration.

White, who died Friday, would have turned 100 on Jan. 17. A movie event planned prior to her death to mark the occasion will go on as planned, according to producers of the film "Betty White: 100 Years Young — A Birthday Celebration."

"Our hearts mourn today with the passing of Betty White. During the many years we worked with her, we developed a great love and admiration for Betty as a person, and as an accomplished entertainer," film producers Steve Boettcher and Mike Trinklein said in a statement to CNN. "We are thankful for the many decades of delight she brought to everyone. Betty always said she was the 'luckiest broad on two feet' to have had a career as long as she did. And honestly, we were the lucky ones to have had her for so long."

The film explores White's career and follows her day-to-day life, including her work, entertaining at home, and her advocacy for animals. It is set to screen at 900 theaters nationwide through Fathom Events and was originally going to show live footage of White's actual birthday party.

"We will go forward with our plans to show the film on January 17 in hopes our film will provide a way for all who loved her to celebrate her life—and experience what made her such a national treasure," Boettcher and Trinklein said.

A star-studded cast of friends including Ryan Reynolds, Tina Fey, Robert Redford, Lin Manuel- Miranda, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Jay Leno, Carol Burnett, Craig Ferguson, Jimmy Kimmel, Valerie Bertinelli, James Corden, Wendy Malick and more were originally scheduled to participate.

"Who doesn't love a party?!? This one is gonna be GREAT!" White said in a statement to CNN last week.

4:50 p.m. ET, December 31, 2021

Actor Henry Winkler says the outpouring of love for White stemmed from her "generosity of spirit"

Actor Henry Winkler recounted the first time he met Betty White after arriving in Hollywood in 1973 shortly before starring as Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli on the hit sitcom "Happy Days."

Winkler, whose TV and film career spans decades, said at the heart of why White has been beloved for so long is "because she was always who she was."

"And over the years, when you met her, it didn't matter how long it had been in between. It was as if, first of all, you were the only person in the room. And second of all, it was as if you had seen her yesterday," Winkler told CNN Friday afternoon following White's passing. "It was; she was amazing. Her generosity of spirit is the reason everybody talks about her in this way is because her generosity was unequaled. Just an amazing person. Luminous. She glowed. And that's not even hyperbole. It's the truth."

5:30 p.m. ET, December 31, 2021

California governor calls White "one of the most beloved and lasting figures in television"

Betty White arrives for an evening with Betty White held at Academy of Television Arts & Sciences on May 10, 2012, in North Hollywood, California.
Betty White arrives for an evening with Betty White held at Academy of Television Arts & Sciences on May 10, 2012, in North Hollywood, California. (Toby Canham/Getty Images)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom called Betty White an "actress, comedian, and cultural icon," according to a statement released following her death Friday afternoon.

“Betty was a trailblazer, and easily one of the most beloved and lasting figures in television," Newsom said. "She co-founded her own production company in the 1950s, one of two women at the time wielding creative control on both sides of the camera. Her 80-year career is the longest for any woman in television, and her work on Golden Girls created a cultural touchstone that remains relevant almost 40 years after its premiere."

Newsom added: "But above all else, she was a beacon of hope throughout her career, bringing joy and humor to everything she did. Although she may not have been born here, she was a timeless Californian treasure, through and through, and was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in 2010. Betty happily shared her talents with the world, and her spark will live on, inspiring generations to come.” 

4:20 p.m. ET, December 31, 2021

President Biden calls Betty White a "cultural icon who will be sorely missed"

From CNN's Betsy Klein

The President reacted to news that actress Betty White has died at 99, just weeks short of her 100th birthday.

"That’s a shame, she was a lovely lady,” Biden told reporters in Wilmington, Delaware. "Ninety-nine years old, my mother would say 'God love her,' incredible.”

First lady Jill Biden added, “Who didn’t love Betty White. We’re so sad about her death.”

In a tweet later in the day, the President said White "brought a smile to the lips of generations of Americans" and described her as “a cultural icon who will be sorely missed.”

See the President's tweet:

4:02 p.m. ET, December 31, 2021

Los Angeles mayor honors Betty White's impact on city and service to zoo

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Betty White "made an enormous impact on the life of our city," adding that the city will be "forever grateful" for her service to the Los Angeles Zoo.

"The City of L.A. will be forever grateful for her years of service to the L.A. Zoo on behalf of the animals in our care and the people who love them," Garcetti said in a series of tweets

"Her career in Hollywood blessed us with warm memories that will always live in our hearts," the mayor added.

White was an animal lover and spokesperson for animal welfare, serving as a trustee of the Morris Animal Foundation for more than 40 years.

See the mayor's tweet:

3:59 p.m. ET, December 31, 2021

Tributes begin to pour in following Betty White's death

Actors, directors, comedians and other members of the entertainment industry are mourning the death of Betty White on social media.

Here's a look at some tributes being shared so far:

Disney's former chief executive and long-time executive chairman Bob Iger

Actress Bridget Moynahan

Filmmaker Kevin Smith

Actor LeVar Burton

Actor Mario Lopez

Actor George Takei

Comedian Kathy Griffin 

Actor Henry Winkler

Journalist Dan Rather

Comedian Seth Myers

Comedian Andy Cohen

4:09 p.m. ET, December 31, 2021

Fans gather around Betty White's Hollywood star


Gregg Donovan was among a group of fans gathered at Betty White's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to pay respect to the late actress Friday afternoon.

Donovan said he was shocked upon hearing the news of her death and brought flowers to place on her star.

"She was a lovely human being and warm and humble. Gregarious, and it is a sad thing," Donovan, the ceremonial ambassador of Hollywood, told CNN. "It is a sad day in Hollywood and around the world."

3:44 p.m. ET, December 31, 2021

Betty White was honored during the 2018 Emmy Awards for her more than 80 years in show business

From CNN's Chloe Melas

Betty White speaks onstage during the 70th Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2018, in Los Angeles.
Betty White speaks onstage during the 70th Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2018, in Los Angeles. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Betty White took the stage at the 2018 Emmy Awards to a standing ovation.

White was honored for her more than 80 years in show business, including several decades in television.

“Somebody said something the other day about first lady of television, and I took it as a big compliment,” White said. “Then came the punchline, ‘And then I heard her talking to her daughter a little later, and she said, ‘first lady, she’s that old. She was the first one way back.’”

White, who starred on hit shows like “The Golden Girls” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” was also poignant.

“Little did I dream then, that I would be here and it’s incredible that I’m still in this business and that you are still putting up with me,” White said. “I am thanking you. It’s incredible that you can stay in a career this long and still have people put up with you. I wish they did that at home.”

She got the crowd laughing again with a joke about “Saturday Night Live” creator Lorne Michaels.

“I want to thank Lorne Michaels, not only this tonight but all the wonderful things he has done with me, no for me,” White quipped. “All I can say is it’s such a blessed business to be in and how lucky can be I be and how much I say thank you to each and every one of you.”

3:24 p.m. ET, December 31, 2021

Ryan Reynolds on Betty White: "She was great at defying expectation"

Actor Ryan Reynolds said the "world looks different" following Betty White's passing at age 99.

The actor said in a tweet that White "was great at defying expectation" and "managed to grow very old and somehow, not old enough."

The two starred in the 2009 movie "The Proposal," and ever since, Reynolds had been publicly calling White his "ex-girlfriend."

The iconic actress responded in an interview with People, saying, "I've heard Ryan can't get over his thing for me, but Robert Redford is The One."

Reynolds responded with a tweet, joking, "I'm absolutely sick of the media exploiting past relationships just to drive clicks."

Reynolds is set to appear in a special movie event next month honoring what would have been White's 100th birthday

See Reynolds' tweet:

CNN's Marianne Garvey contributed reporting to this post.