As if 2021 wasn't bad enough, it has taken the much-beloved Betty White with it. She would have been 100 on January 17.
"Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever," her agent and close friend Jeff Witjas told PEOPLE in a 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."
A pioneer of early television, with a career spanning over seven decades, Betty was noted for her vast work in the entertainment industry. She was among the first women to exert control in front of and behind the camera, and the first woman to produce a sitcom (Life with Elizabeth), which contributed to her being named honorary Mayor of Hollywood in 1955.
Here are eight things you never knew about your favorite Golden Girl!
1. Her name is actually Betty. It's never been Elizabeth.
Betty was cool from the get-go. Her parents didn't like all the names that came from Elizabeth, like Beth, Liza, Ellie. She's simply Betty.
2. She's been married three times.
Betty married and divorced pilot Dick Barker in 1945. Let's hope it wasn't because his name was too similar to his personality.
In 1947, she met actor Lane Allen, whom she divorced in 1949, probably because he pushed her to quit show biz. Thankfully she didn't, or else Rose Nylund would have been played by someone else!
Betty didn't marry again until 1963, when she met game show host Allen Ludden, who passed away from stomach cancer in 1981.
3. Betty first auditioned for the role of Blanche on The Golden Girls.
The producers of Golden Girls looked at Rue McClanahan and Betty White's past characters to get a good feel of which character they would play best. Betty had prior experience of playing a promiscuous party girl, and Rue could be that sweet, naive country character because she's done that before. The director thought long and hard, so he asked the two to switch roles in the audition, and the rest is history.
4. If her acting career didn't pan out, she probably would have been a zookeeper.
Betty is a huge animal lover and activist, if you haven't guessed already by the way she treats her dogs. She's donated "tens of thousands of dollars" over the past 40 years to the Farm Animal Reform Movement and Friends of Animals group. She's also a Los Angeles Zoo board member. In a 2014 interview, she confessed that she would, "hands down," be a zookeeper.
5. She LOVES junk food.
So is the elixir of immortality resides in the most delicious foods in the world? Probably not, but the Hot in Cleveland star has lived almost a century consuming red licorice, hot dogs, French fries, and Diet Coke.
6. She's basically obsessed with Robert Redford.
White once confessed that her "answer to anything under the sun, like "˜What have you not done in the business that you've always wanted to do?' is "˜Robert Redford.'" He's 14 years her junior, but that doesn't seem to be an issue for Betty.
7. She holds a Guinness World Record, and she's proud of it. Who wouldn't be?
In 2014, she was awarded the title of Longest TV Career for an Entertainer (Female). We're seriously not surprised. Betty has been in show business for more than 70 years.
8. She was one of the first female producers in Hollywood.
In the early '50s, Betty launched her first television series called Life with Elizabeth. George Tibbles wrote the show, and she produced it.