The Legacy of Betty White

On December 31, 2021, Betty White died at the age of 99, 17 days before her 100 birthday. This tragic event echoed through the hearts of every American home. Betty had a career lasting over 80 years and starred in shows such as The Golden Girls, Hot in Cleveland, and Off Their Rockers. Her Hollywood career is one of the most impressive in history, but the legacy of Betty White goes far off the screen. Betty paved the way for women in the entertainment industry. She was the first woman to ever appear on television, star in a sitcom, and receive an Emmy nomination. Though the glass ceiling truly broke when in 1952 Betty co-founded a production company, which allowed her to be the first woman to produce a National TV show. From then on, women could create masterpieces on both sides of the camera. These impressive accomplishments motivated the generation of inspiring actresses. Betty White used her platform to lift up marginalized communities. She was an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ+ rights along with HIV/ AIDS awareness, both of which were publicly condemned. On “The Betty White Show”, the very show she produced, she invited an African American tap dancer, Arthur Duncan, to perform. This decision caused severe amounts of criticism to Betty and her show, and many pro segregated viewers threatened to boycott the show. White responded by giving Duncan more airtime. Betty also worked her whole life towards helping with animal welfare, she was a chairwoman of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association & worked with the Morris Animal Foundation, which caused her to become an honorary doctorate of Human Veterinary Science. By 1950, Betty had been divorced 2 times, which was unheard of. Both times it was due to her prioritizing her career over her husband. Overall Betty Whites' career was groundbreaking & trailblazing. She helped expand feminism in the entertainment industry, but also in America. Her sudden departure will leave a cultural whole that won’t be able to fill.


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Briggs Becker

Senior

Bentonville West



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