Betty White, 1922-2021: Thank You For Being a Friend.

A decorative image screenshot of an episode of The Golden Girls, with Betty White as Rose Nylund wearing a blue suit, Estelle Getty as Sophia Petrillo wearing a turquoise cardigan and a light blue sweater, Bea Arthur as Dorothy Zbornak wearing a black sweater and a gold necklace, Rue McClanahan as Blanche Deveraux wearing a red and black striped sweater, all sitting at the kitchen table, covered in a floral-print tablecloth.

On New Years’ Eve 2021, we learned that Betty White died at the age of 99 years.  At the time of the TMZ posting regarding her passing, her cause of death was still pending investigation. We have since learned that she suffered a stroke on Christmas, and died in her sleep shortly after that.

Earlier that month, there were plans underway for a documentary for Betty’s birthday celebration, where she would officially become a centenarian. The movie, Betty White: 100 Years Young-A Birthday Celebration, slated for release today as a one-day screening in select theaters, was originally going to be a big celebration. After last year’s birthday being what it was due to the pandemic, it was time to go big or go home.

Then the news came out regarding her passing. Instead of shelving the project, the producers made the wise choice to continue moving forward with it. This meant a title change, Betty White: A Celebration.

Today, it hit the theaters. The closest theater showing it in my area is a two-hour bus ride both ways, and since money’s an issue for me these days (lol, so what else is new?), I hope it comes out on the streaming services and Redbox soon. I’d love to see it.

I vaguely remember The Golden Girls on TV as a kid. I was in kindergarten when it ended its’ run, but I remember my mom watching it a time or two. The only thing that stands out to me from that time is that theme song.

As I came of age, The Golden Girls came into my life once again, at a neighbor’s house. They had cable, and they lived for the reruns on TV Land. I’d see the episodes with them, but since I was completely unfamiliar with the story line, it was all lost on me.

I may have to look around and see if it’s available on any of the Roku channels I’ve got. If it is, then I know what I’ll be doing in the week to come. If not, then I may have to slide into Roku’s DMs over on facebook and see if there’s any plans in the works to change that.

In the years that followed since The Golden Girls ended its’ run, Betty White moved forward in acting, but also pursued other ventures. She wrote several books, the most recent one published in 2011. She also advocated for LGBTQ causes, civil rights, and also animal welfare.

Betty’s career spanned nearly 80 years, which included a variety show in the early 1950s, around the same time as Hazel Scott and Nat King Cole did theirs. Her show was broadcast on the national scale, so it had a lot of influence. One of her guests, Arthur Duncan, a famous tap dancer of the time, became a regular on her show. This video shows an episode from 1954, and today’s the first time I saw it. I’m gonna tell you right now, it totally blew me away.

Betty’s reaction to the clapback she got from having Arthur Duncan on her show was the embodiment of class: “I’m sorry, but, you know, he stays. Live with it.” We have to remember, this was the early 1950s, and the Jim Crow laws in the South were still a thing. The Civil Rights Movement was early in the game, and a lot of people subscribed to some terrible worldviews about groups of people they didn’t understand or know.

Betty White was living proof that not everybody thought like this. Sadly, too many did think this way. I love how she told the racist, prejudiced mofos raising a stink over Arthur Duncan being a regular on her show to get bent.

After his run on the show, his career took off. I’m happy to report that Arthur Duncan’s still with us. I wonder how he’s holding up these days. Good, I hope!

Since today’s the day Betty White would have turned 100 years old, there’s the Betty White Challenge, where you donate 5 bucks to an animal shelter in her honor. I’m definitely going to do this, however, it’ll be a belated birthday gift in her honor. On top of the movie in the theaters today, Google’s also got a little something special to celebrate.

A screenshot of the Google search results page, dated January 17th, 2022 for "Betty White." Across the screen, red rose petals fall, and in script text, a small graphic reads "Thank you for being a friend, 1922-2021".

Pretty cool, huh? Over to you, readers. How has Betty White made an impact on your lives? Got any fun memories of The Golden Girls? Are you gonna see the movie today? Have you seen it? I’d love to hear your thoughts and takeaways, so drop ’em like they’re hot below, and let’s get the party started.

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