A heartfelt goodbye. Betty White‘s last word before her death was recently revealed by a close friend, who heard about the cultural icon’s final moments upon her passing.
The Golden Girls actress passed away at the age of 99 on December 31, 2021—just weeks before what would have been her 100th birthday on January 17, 2022. Her agent and longtime confidant Jeff Witjas confirmed the news in a statement to People, telling the outlet, “Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever. 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.”
Before her death, White was preparing to celebrate her centennial year with Betty White: A Celebration—originally titled Betty White: 100 Years Young – A Birthday Celebration—a documentary film about her life premiering on her birthday in 2022. In an interview about the documentary, the comedian revealed the key to her long life was being “born a cockeyed optimist.” She added, “I got it from my mom, and that never changed. I always find the positive,” per People.
The actress went on to note how grateful she was to age so gracefully. “I’m so lucky to be in such good health and feel so good at this age. It’s amazing,” she told the outlet, before joking, “I try to avoid anything green. I think it’s working.”
While these were among Betty White’s last words before her death in public, she privately shared something else prior to her passing. Keep on reading to find out Betty White’s last word.
What were Betty White’s last words before she died?
Actress Vicki Lawrence, who starred opposite Betty White in the 1980s sitcom Mama’s Family, revealed Betty White’s last words in an interview with Page Six following the cultural icon’s death on December 31, 2021. According to Lawrence, Betty White’s last word was “Allen”—the first name of her late husband, Allen Ludden.
When Lawrence first heard about White’s death, she reached out to fellow Mama’s Family co-star and friend, comedian Carol Burnett. “I texted Carol and said, ‘This just sucks. I hate this. It’s just horrible to see the people you love so much go away,’” Lawrence told the outlet. “Carol wrote back and said, ‘I know, I know. I spoke to Betty’s assistant, who was with her when she passed, and she said the very last word out of her mouth was ‘Allen.'”
Lawrence continued, “How sweet is that? I said, ‘That is so sweet. God, I hope that’s true. For all of us, I really hope it’s true, a lovely thought.’”
The Mary Tyler Moore Show alum was married to TV personality Allen Ludden from 1963 until his death in 1981. Ludden, who passed away at the age of 72 from stomach cancer, met White when she appeared as a celebrity guest on his game show, Password, in 1961. Prior to her relationship with Ludden, White was briefly married to U.S. Army pilot Dick Barker and talent agent Lane Allen.
Years after Ludden’s death, White revealed why she decided to never get remarried during an interview with CBS News Sunday Morning in 2012. “When you’ve had the best, who needs the rest? It was special. It was very special,” she said, before joking, “But that doesn’t keep you from having fun with somebody and going out and having dates. And Robert Redford never calls.” The comedian had a noted crush on Redford, who at 85, was among the stars who celebrated her life following her death. “Betty lived life devoted to her craft and her love of animals,” he told E! News. “She made us all laugh, including me. I had a crush on her too!”
What was Betty White’s cause of death?
Shortly after news broke of Betty White’s death at the age of 99 on December 31, 2021, rumors began circulating that her cause of death was due to a COVID-19 booster shot. Social media users falsely claimed that the star got her booster shot three days before her passing on December 28, 2021, and told fans, “Eat healthy and get all your vaccines. I just got boosted today.” However, according to White’s agent Jeff Witjas, the Golden Girls alum did not say this, nor did she receive a booster shot before her death.
“Betty died peacefully in her sleep at her home. People are saying her death was related to getting a booster shot three days earlier but that is not true,” Witjas said in a statement to People, before revealing Betty White’s cause of death. “She died of natural causes. Her death should not be politicized — that is not the life she lived.” Addressing the rumors, Witjas added, “She never said that regarding the booster. Betty died of natural causes. She did not have the booster three days before she died.”
The agent doubled down on the false speculation in an interview with Entertainment Tonight, telling the outlet, “I can absolutely, 100 percent say, Betty did not pass because of the booster, she did not pass because of COVID, she never had COVID. She passed, with my understanding, of natural causes. Being 99 years old, unfortunately, you know. But there was no outside disease. Betty was a healthy, healthy lady and for those who are trying to start a political conversation about vaccines with Betty White, don’t. It’s not true. Betty never had the booster, and that is really it. Period.”
Following her death, other rumors began to circulate about the star’s alleged declining health and her decision to have a dress made for what would have been her centennial celebration on January 17, 2022. Witjas debunked these rumors, too. “It’s funny, I hadn’t heard that one but Betty was never really into having someone make clothes for her. Betty had her style of clothes,” he shares. “All the pictures will depict that, it was just her style. And there was a dress made for her for one of the award shows, beautiful dress, she wore it, liked it, but she was more comfortable in her own clothes. So I never heard that anybody was gonna make clothes for her.”
As for the rumors about her “declining health,” Witjas noted that he didn’t find her unhealthy at the time of her death. “I don’t think necessarily that Betty was in declining health. She was a little frail. She wasn’t going to run the mile, you know? But she was basically healthy,” he stressed. “I was over there at the house a number of times and we enjoyed playing gin rummy together.”
He continued, “Now I will say, her mind was sharp, her mind was always sharp, and she ticked me off really because she beat me four times…Somebody who is in declining health wouldn’t be able to play gin rummy, honestly, and especially beat me four times. And as I was leaving, she promised me a rematch. That’s the only thing we’re not going to have. But at least she knows, as I left, she beat me, because we had a very fun, competitive gin rummy game.”
For more about Betty White, read her 2010 memoir, Here We Go Again: My Life in Television. The New York Times bestseller takes readers through White’s 50-plus years on television in shows Life With Elizabeth, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Golden Girls. Packed with White’s trademark humor and never-before-heard stories about her Hollywood friends and her off-screen life, Here We Go Again follows White’s career from her start on radio and her first TV show, Hollywood on Television, to some of her final years of life as one of the hardest-working actresses in Hollywood ever. Here We go Again: My Life in Television is a must-read for anyone who wants to remember Betty White’s life and legacy.
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