Betty White “knew” she was well-loved, according to her agent and long-time friend, Jeff Witjas.
The veteran Hollywood actress died on New Year’s Eve 2021 aged 99 just weeks before she had been due to celebrate her 100th birthday on January 17.
“She knew [she was loved], but I would tell her often. Even when she wasn’t working, I said, ‘Betty, millions of people out there are still asking for you. You’re getting your fan letters, I’m getting offers for you,’” Witjas told People.
“I don’t know if she ever embraced it, (or) really, really felt it. The extent of it. I really don’t. I would always reinforce it with her because I always felt she should know that. I never wanted her to think while she was sitting at home, that the world has passed her by. It never did,” he continued.
Adding: “Betty lived a great life and she lived a life that she chose. She was happy. Every time I told her, ‘Betty, you’re loved,’ she would look at me with a wry smile and say, ‘Really?’ I hope she knew. I think she did. It was something beyond love.”
Witjas previously confirmed to the publication that the actress, who was best known for her role as Rose in TV sitcom The Golden Girls, “died peacefully in her sleep” and had spent most of the final years of her life in her LA home.
“[She] was really simply spending each day at her home. She didn’t go out. She was under a doctor’s care, not for any reason, other than just being careful with COVID,” he explained.
A host of famous faces paid tribute to White on social media including actor Ryan Reynolds.
He and White had previously starred together in the comedy movie The Proposal in which she played his eccentric grandmother.
Taking to instagram, he wrote: “The world looks a little different now. She was great at defying expectation. She managed to grow very old and somehow, not old enough. We’ll miss you, Betty. Now you know the secret.”
Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis lamented on Twitter: “RIP Betty White! Man did I think you would live forever. You blew a huge hole in this world that will inspire generations. Rest in glorious peace….you’ve earned your wings.”
While an emotional Jennifer Love Hewitt chose to reflect in a video posted to Instagram.
“When I was a kid, I watched Golden Girls with my grandmother, and I fell in love with Betty White. And then I got to work with her, and I fell in love with her for real,” the I Know What You Did Last Summer actress told her 1.2m followers.
“I had the greatest honor and pleasure of being really close with her and calling her a really, really good friend. One of my best friends. … She was everything that you wanted her to be and more.
“So please honor her by laughing and drinking vodka, ‘cause she loved vodka, and playing Scrabble, because she loved to play Scrabble, and watching her on Golden Girls, and all the amazing things that she was a part of.
“Hug your animals because she loved animals more than anything in the world. Miss Betty White, you are now my angel, and I love you always,” she concluded.
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