The Loss of the Last Golden Girl
Thank You for Being a Friend
Picture it, Yazoo City, around 1996 or so. A young, shy and awkward yet adorable girl is flipping through the channels on her television when she comes across a show that looks interesting. Four older women are sitting around a table eating cheesecake and talking and laughing. She is immediately drawn to the screen. Flash forwards a few decades, she grows up. Along the way, she becomes a lifelong fan of this show, and those wonderful women who were on it. That young girl was me, and that show was none other than the Golden Girls. Those four women were Dorothy (Bea Arthur), Sophia (Estelle Getty), Blanche (Rue McClanahan), and Rose (Betty White).
On New Year’s Eve, we lost the remaining Golden Girl, Betty White. She was ninety-nine years old, just a few weeks short of her one hundredth birthday. What was supposed to be a huge celebration turned into a nation of grieving. But through the tears, we can find laughter in the legacy that she left behind. And along with it, lessons that will remain with us for a lifetime.
Betty White was a pioneer in the television industry, dating back all the way to 1939 when she took part in a test to see if they could get a program from one level of a college to another. She went on to be on a program that had her on screen for hours at a time. on it performing musical numbers and skits. She found fame when she starred in the early sitcom “Life with Elizabeth.” Later she starred as the happy homemaker, Sue Ann Nivens on the Mary Tyler Moore Show and Ellen on Mama’s Family.
White was 63 years old when we earned her what could be arguably the biggest role of her career, the sweet and bubbly Rose Nylund on the Golden Girls. This show opened the door for future actresses as it was one of the first time that older actresses were the stars. It also showed that age is truly just a number. These women were mothers and grandmothers. Whereas previously, women of their age were shown as retired and settling down, giving milk and cookies to children, these girls were working, had active social lives, and not to mention the men…. the many, many men.
The Golden Girls was aired for seven years. Afterwards, Betty White still refused to retire. She went on to roles in “The Proposal,” “Bringing Down the House,” “That 70s Show,” and as host of SNL. In total, Betty White spent over seventy years in show business. She was always able to keep up with modern times, and each generation found themselves falling in love with her. However, her legacy goes far beyond the roles that she played.
Betty White had two great loves in her life, animals, and her third husband, Allen Ludden. White met her last husband in 1961 when she was a contestant on the gameshow, Password, which Ludden was the host of. His wife had just passed away and the two instantly formed a close friendship. Betty turned Allen’s proposal down at least twice before finally accepted. Instead of accepting defeat, he put the ring on a gold chain and wore it around his neck until she said yes. The two would remain married until his death due to cancer in 1981. Although asked over the years about remarrying, she remained loyal to her dear Allen. She would always respond by stating, “When you’ve had the best, who needs the rest.” Although, she did have a soft spot in her heart for Robert Redford.
Betty White was also a long supporter of several animal charities. She often said that she felt more comfortable around the four-legged animals then she did with the two-legged variety. She stated that her love of animals started when she was in the womb. After her death, fans were encouraged to donate in her honor to an animal shelter, rescue, or organization. Since her passing nearly two weeks ago, animal organizations have grown to quadruple in donations.
Betty White lived a great life in the ninety-nine precious years she had on Earth. She brought so much joy and peace to us all. She was the grandmother that we all wish we could have. She taught us how to live, laugh, and love. She was never afraid of death, she thought of it as a great secret that we would all learn when it was time. She also believed that she would be rejoined with her beloved Allen. I like to think that she is up there with him now. She now knows the secret that is what is next after we leave this life. You will live on in my heart and I will always strive to live up to what you have taught me. Thank you, Betty, for being a friend.
About the Creator
Mom, sister, teacher, student, writer. I love to touch on all areas as I like to expose myself to new things. My goal is to use my experience to entertain and educate.
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