Entertainment Betty White 'Died Peacefully in Her Sleep' at Home, Agent Says
Nearing 100, Betty White's life is a page-turner in new book
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A photo of Betty White, with dimpled smile and guileless gaze, fills the cover of a coffee table book arriving the month before her 100th birthday. The image evokes the genuine White, according to the book’s author, Ray Richmond. After digging into her life and career, he concluded that she’s as warm and appealing as appearances would have it. But her willingness to play against type, whether as scheming Sue Ann on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” or naïve Rose of “The Golden Girls,” proves how game and talented White is, said Richmond.
"died peacefully in her sleep at her home early this morning," her agent and close friend Jeff Witjas tells PEOPLE.
Witjas previouslythat the beloved comedian had died on Friday at age 99, just two and a half weeks before what would have been her centennial birthday.
"Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever," he said in an earlier statement. "I will miss her terribly and so will the animal world that she loved so much. I don't think Betty ever feared passing because she always wanted to be with her most beloved husband Allen Ludden. She believed she would be with him again."
How Betty White Plans to Celebrate Her 100th Birthday
The beloved icon will turn 100 years old on Jan. 17.The beloved icon will turn 100 years old on Jan. 17, and she's celebrating the momentous milestone with a once-in-a-lifetime movie event, Betty White: 100 Years Young -- A Birthday Celebration.
White was gearing up to celebrate her 100th birthday on Jan. 17. Ahead of the day, in a cover story, Whiteabout how she was feeling about turning 100 years old.
"I'm so lucky to be in such good health and feel so good at this age," said the veteran actress. "It's amazing."
According to White, being "born a cockeyed optimist" was the key to her upbeat nature. "I got it from my mom, and that never changed," she said. "I always find the positive."
Of course, the iconic actress also cracked a joke about the secret to her long life,: "I try to avoid anything green. I think it's working."
Steve Martin Recounts His First Time Meeting Betty White in 1974: 'I Was Elated'
As Betty White gears up to celebrate her centennial birthday, Steve Martin shared a story on Twitter on Thursday about meeting the famed comedian over four decades ago when he was just beginning his career. "In 1974, I was an obscure opening act for Linda Ronstadt at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. Passing through the lobby before the show, I saw Betty White and her husband Allen Ludden waiting in line," the Only Murders in the Building actor wrote. In a follow-up tweet he added, "I loved Betty White, so I went up to them: 'I'm so honored to meet you both.
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"We are deeply saddened by the news of Betty White's passing," said PEOPLE editor in chief Dan Wakeford. "We are honored that she recently chose to work with PEOPLE to celebrate her extraordinary life and career."
RELATED VIDEO: Betty White, The 'Golden Girls' and 'Hot in Cleveland' Star, Dead at 99
Following the news of her death, Hollywood's biggest starsto the beloved actress.
"The world," wrote , who had fostered a loving relationship with White over the years. "She was great at defying expectation. She managed to grow very old and somehow, not old enough. We'll miss you, Betty."
White's Hot in Cleveland costaralso shared her condolences on social media.
"Rest in peace, sweet Betty," Bertinelli wrote. "My God, how bright heaven must be right now."
As the world prepared to ring in a new year on Friday night,: "Tonight we will raise MANY glasses to the WONDERFUL legacy of Betty White!!!"
Betty White’s Final Message: How ‘Betty White: A Celebration’ Pivoted to Become an Iconic Tribute .
Despite being nearly 100 years old, it felt like Betty White was, somehow, going to live forever. So when her death was announced on New Year’s Eve, it stunned everyone — including producers Steve Boettcher and Mike Trinklein. The duo, who knew Betty for more than a decade and are the minds behind PBS’ Pioneers of Television, were gearing up to celebrate the icon’s life and legacy on Jan. 17 with Fathom Events’ Betty White: 100 Years Young — A Birthday Celebration.