Betty White dead at 99: Legendary Golden Girls actress passes away as fans pay tribute to American icon

LEGENDARY Golden Girls actress Betty White passed away on Friday, as fans pay tribute to the American icon.

White – whose Hollywood career spanned over more than nine decades – was 99-years-old, and only weeks from her 100th birthday on January 17th.

Sources told TMZ that the iconic star passed away at her home on the morning of New Year's Eve.

Her agent and friend Jeff Witjas said in a statement to PEOPLE: "Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever.

"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." 

Born in Oak Park, Illinois, on January 17, 1922, White's career started as a radio personality in Los Angeles in the 1930s.

She transitioned to television, where she became a staple panelist of American game shows, including Password, Match Game, Tattletales, To Tell The Truth, Hollywood Squares and The $25,000 Pyramid.

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White was dubbed "the first lady of game show," becoming the first woman to receive the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host in 1983.

Her career skyrocketed with her role as Rose Nylund in the '80s sitcom The Golden Girls.

Starring alongside Beatrice Arthur, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty, the four women's characters revolved around three widows and one divorcée who shared a house in Miami, Florida.

The sitcom received critical acclaim throughout most of its run, winning several awards, including two Primetime Emmy Awards and three Golden Globe Awards.

Each of the four stars received an Emmy Award, making it one of only four sitcoms in the award's history to achieve this.

In a final tweet before her death, Betty said: "My 100th birthday… I cannot believe it is coming up."

The star opened up about her health in a rare interview earlier this week and revealed that she remains in tiptop condition because she maintains a positive outlook on life.

"I'm so lucky to be in such good health and feel so good at this age, It's amazing," she told PEOPLE.

The TV favourite admitted that she "born a cockeyed optimist" which is imperative to her upbeat nature.

She continued: "I got it from my mom, and that never changed. I always find the positive."

As for her diet, Betty joked: "I try to avoid anything green. I think it's working."

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