Celebrating the life of Betty White


Photographer: Amanda Edwards/WireImage/Getty Images

In this week’s edition of Cinema Summaries, Wingspan takes a look at the cinematic accomplishments of recently deceased actress Betty White.

Andrew Jáuregui, Interactive Media Editor

A great icon was lost on New Year’s Eve. Although mostly known for her television work, her impact on the world of entertainment was greater than most could ever hope to achieve. Her name: Betty White.

Born Jan 17, 1922, Betty White was only weeks away from her 100th birthday. Although her death will be mourned by many, celebrating her life and career with a spirit of jubilation will be the best way to carry on in her absence.

The start of her career began in 1941 when she volunteered to help in the war effort by transporting military supplies in the Hollywood area. After becoming familiar with the area, White knew that she wanted a career in Hollywood.

After the war she began modeling, and would find her first acting jobs on the stage. Trying to play to her strengths as a stage actress and her camera work, Betty White began looking for work among film studios.

Unfortunately, she would have little success looking for film work, but should begin working on radio shows, finding increasingly bigger roles until she began hosting her own radio show in 1949, The Betty White Show, which would later transition to the relatively new medium of television shows in 1952.

From there on, White would find success on other various television programs. In contrast to other women at the time, White had almost complete creative control over many of her projects, a position in which few women and even men would find themselves in at that time. While some of her early TV work would often be hit or miss in terms of reception, by the 1960’s Betty White was certainly a celebrity, appearing on other TV shows and game shows as a special guest.

In the 1970’s, White’s success would only grow, as she appeared on more shows including The Mary Tyler Moore Show, winning several Emmy awards during this decade for her work. She would also continue her appearances on talk shows, as well as her other celebrity appearances. 

In the following decade, Betty White would begin perhaps one of her most iconic roles as Rose Nylund on the hit television show, The Golden Girls in 1985. Betty white would play this role into the 1990’s until the show ended in 1992.

After a spin-off the show failed, White would continue to take on roles, both as a lasting character and as a guest star well into the next millennium, but by the early to mid 2010’s, White would make less frequent appearances. However, she would still make appearances even as she became over 90 years old. Even as her career slowed down, her fame remained larger than ever.

By the end of 2021, many were eager for White’s 100th birthday, with many news publications to celebrate the milestone with her, but as if the last joke in her momentous career in comedy, White wouldn’t give them the satisfaction. White will be mourned, missed, and celebrated.