EDITORIAL: A TV pioneer and an American institition

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 5, 2022

As the outpouring of sadness across social media showed on Friday, you’d be hard pressed to find an American who was as beloved as Betty White.

The comic actress and star of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “The Golden Girls,” who died on New Year’s Eve a few weeks shy of her 100th birthday, had fans of every stripe, whether from her pioneering work in television on her series “Life With Elizabeth” to her late career comeback in the 2000s, which featured a hosting spot on Saturday Night Live at age 89, as well as two new series.

Her humor and timing were universal and timeless and, a rarity in these times, transcended any divide or tribalization in society.

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But White’s appeal was likely more to do with how, by all accounts, her real life persona matched that of her television persona.

Numerous posts and tributes came in, testifying to her kindness, whether from low-level crew members who worked with her or those at charities she gave her time to, especially as an animal advocate, something she was passionate about for decades.

Local television viewers may remember the public service announcement she recorded promoting Charleston, West Virginia’s animal shelter in the early 1990s, during a visit to the region.

White was a major contributor to American pop culture for more than 70 years and her sunny personality brought joy to multiple generations.

There’s an old saying to “always leave them wanting more” and, as the reaction to her passing shows, even at 99 years old, it still feels too soon for many.