Breaking news out of Hollywood – Betty White has passed away at age 99

Betty White, TV's perennial Golden Girl, has died.

"Even though Betty was about to be 100, We thought she would live forever," her agent and close friend Jeff Witjas told PEOPLE in a statement on Friday. "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."

White was gearing up to celebrate her 100th birthday on Jan. 17. Ahead of her centennial year, in January, White opened up to PEOPLE about 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."

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Of course, the iconic actress also cracked a joke about the secret to her long life, telling PEOPLE: "I try to avoid anything green. I think it's working."

A warm and popular presence on the small screen, White's career dated back to the early days of the medium and spanned decades. Long before her hilarious turns on The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the '70s and The Golden Girls in the '80s, in 1952 she appeared in the I Love Lucy-like Life with Elizabeth, a show she also produced.

In 2010, at age 87, she enjoyed an awards-laden resurgence, when, after starring on a Snickers commercial during the Super Bowl, polls and petitions overwhelmingly named her the public's choice to host Saturday Night Live, emcee various awards shows and even be a sergeant's date at a Marine Corps ball.

After that, she went on to star and steal scenes on the TV Land sitcom Hot in Cleveland, even scoring an Emmy nomination — her 17th, including seven wins. In May 2012 she also debuted on the NBC comedy reality show Betty White's Off Their Rockers, a kind of geriatric Punk'd. As always, she proved a favorite.

 

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