Hollywood lost a true icon when Betty White passed away on December 31, 2021. The beloved actress was 99 years old when she passed and was less than three weeks away from celebrating her 100th birthday, which would have happened on January 17, 2022. Betty White remained active throughout the final decade of her career, which helped her amass a very impressive net worth. How did Betty White become so beloved, not just in Hollywood, but by anyone who came in contact with her? To all, she was simply a genuine person.
BETTY WHITE, THE PARK RANGER?
Betty White was born in Oak Park, Illinois on January 17, 1922. When she was barely over a year old, her family loaded up the wagon and headed to the warmer confines of Alhambra, California. Shortly thereafter, the family moved to Los Angeles.
In Los Angeles, Betty White went to school in Beverly Hills at the Horace Mann Elementary School, then attended Beverly Hills High School. But during her school years, White began her lifelong fascination with the outdoors, and especially animals, as her family would routinely vacation in the Sierra Nevadas. It was because of these vacations that White had aspirations of becoming a forest ranger. “But back then, girls were not allowed to become forest rangers,” White said via ABC News. This came in 2010 when White was accepting an honorary designation from the U.S. Forest Service. The special ceremony brought nothing but true emotion from White as she stood there wearing a large-brimmed Forest Ranger hat and holding a plush Smokey Bear doll tight.
White emotionally claimed that her parents “would be more proud of this than of any other award I have won.” From where she stood accepting the honor, she was a proud woman. At the time, almost one-third of the Forest Service was comprised of women. “I was so pleased to look out and see all those women in their ranger uniforms.”
THE BETTY WHITE SHOW
Alas, becoming a forest ranger was not in the cards for Betty White. Writing became her passion and then after inspiration from her film idols Nelson Eddy (Rose-Marie) and Jeanette McDonald (Rose-Marie, San Francisco), she decided that she liked to perform on stage. But as White was ready to try her hand in the entertainment field, a huge roadblock was put in front of her – World War II.
As the war ended, White decided to attempt a movie career in earnest. Sadly, what she was told early on was that she was not photogenic. So, she then went to look for radio jobs where being pretty didn’t matter. She found early success with radio commercials and bit parts on radio shows and received enough positive reviews on her material that she was offered The Betty White Show. Although she took the gig, she still had her aspirations to be in front of movie cameras.
BETTY WHITE HITS HOLLYWOOD – THE NET WORTH STARTS GROWING
Betty White got her first taste in Hollywood in an uncredited role as an extra in the 1945 short, Time to Kill. It would take her another four years before she would be in front of the camera, this time in 1949 on the TV series, Hollywood on Television. White would finally get her first big break three years after that when she starred in the TV series Life with Elizabeth, playing the lead character. Betty White’s career was finally starting.
From her start as Elizabeth in 1952 through the early 1970s, Betty White moved from series to series. She was seen on shows such as Date with the Angels, Advise & Consent, That’s Life, Petticoat Junction, Vanished, and The Odd Couple. All of these shows were leading Betty White to one of her most popular roles of Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. White arrived on the scene three years into the series and would remain until the series ended in 1977.
Her success on Mary Tyler Moore took her to her own series, The Betty White Show, a series that only lasted one season. From then on, Betty White became a TV legend, which contributed to her massive net worth. The decade of the ‘80s saw White star in TV shows like Best of the West, Love, Sidney, The Love Boat, Fame, Hotel, St. Elsewhere, Who’s the Boss, and Mama’s Family.
The ‘80s also saw Betty White’s net worth jump tremendously when she took on the role of Rose Nylund in the uber-successful and funny sitcom, The Golden Girls. Teaming up with the likes of Bea Arthur, Estelle Getty, and Rue McClanahan, White’s “terminally naïve” Rose was one of the best characters she had ever played. The series ran for seven wonderful seasons and only ended when Bea Arthur decided it was time for her to move on. White, McClanahan, and Getty tried to keep things going the following season with the series, The Golden Palace, but it only lasted one season.
TV IS WHERE IT’S AT
Betty White made her living on television. She was a frequent guest on numerous game shows, so much so that she was called the First Lady of Gameshows. But her career, and her net worth, were all built around TV. After The Golden Palace ended, White continued her run on television shows. Bob, Diagnosis Murder, Maybe This Time, and The John Larroquette Show were just a few of the series she guest-starred on. But as her career continued, White began to find herself appearing in bit parts in feature films as well. These bit parts would add tremendously to her legacy along with her growing net worth.
BETTY WHITE’S NET WORTH MOMENT – THE MOVIE STAR
It’s not like Betty White hadn’t been in a feature film before, she had. Her first feature was the 1962 film Advise & Consent, though other than TV movies, she was not seen again on the big screen until the 1998 film Hard Rain. That same year she would star as herself in the Eddie Murphy film, Holy Man. The following year would see Betty White become the Betty White most of us remember when she played the “elderly lady” character in the underrated horror film, Lake Placid. There would be many versions of her Lake Placid Mrs. Delores Bickerman to come.
Over the next decade, Betty White would continue her run on television but also find herself crossing over a few times to features. She appeared in the film The Story of Us and Bringing Down the House. She appeared in The Third Wish and then make a great comedic splash in the 2009 Sandra Bullock/Ryan Reynolds rom-com The Proposal.
In between those films, White continued to lay claim as the TV series Queen as well by finding time on shows like Ally McBeal, Ladies Man, That ‘70s Show, The Practice, Malcolm in the Middle, The Simpsons, Family Guy, Joey, and Ugly Betty.
HER FINAL FILM WASN’T HER LAST APPEARANCE
Believe it or not, Betty White’s final feature film came over a decade ago. She starred as Grandma Bunny in the comedy You Again, which starred Kristen Bell, Jamie Lee Curtis, Sigourney Weaver, and Odette Yustman. The story told of two generations of women rivals. Bell played Curtis’s daughter while Yustman played Weaver’s daughter. White was on board as Bell’s grandmother.
Although Kyle Bornheimer was hilarious and stole every scene he was in as Yustman’s jilted ex-boyfriend, Tim, Betty White did her Betty White things. The kicker (MINOR SPOILER if you haven’t seen the fun film) comes at the end when Cloris Leachman arrives on the scene, and we find out that Betty White and her were also rivals in high school. It was a perfect way to end the film and unfortunately, that is how Betty White’s feature film career would end.
That movie would premiere in 2010 and although it was her last, Betty White did not slow down when it came to television. In fact, White would continue to add to her net worth all the way through the 2010s, which was amazing as she was entering her 90th year.
During her final decade in show business, White began to lend her voice to more voice roles as well. She could be heard on films like The Lorax and Toy Story 4, but also on series such as Pound Puppies and SpongeBob SquarePants. Between those White also starred in Save Me, The Soul Man, Hot in Cleveland, Bones, and Young & Hungry. The last time Betty White would be seen on TV was on a 2018 episode of Fireside Chat with Esther. Her very final television performance was a voice role in Forky Asks a Question.
Throughout her career, Betty White used vast amounts of her net worth as an animal activist. She was a pet enthusiast as well as an activist and would oftentimes contribute large sums of money toward animal welfare. She worked with organizations such as Los Angeles Zoo Commission, The Morris Animal Foundation, African Wildlife Foundation, and Actors and Others for Animals.
Mama’s Family co-star, Vicki Lawrence, shared a wonderful story about Betty White after hearing of White’s passing. She explained that during her time on the series, in which Lawrence played the lead, White was never late, always on time, and very well prepared.
One day, though, White missed her call time. White finally got to the set an hour late. She apologized profusely but explained to all that while she was driving down Sunset Boulevard towards the studios, two golden retrievers were in the middle of the road. There was simply no way that White could chance them getting hit by cars, so she stopped in the middle of the road, coaxed the dogs into her car, and found the home where they lived. That, according to Lawrence, was Betty White.
BETTY WHITE’S NET WORTH
It goes without saying that Betty White enjoyed a long and prosperous life. She brought smiles to anyone she come in contact with, both on-screen and off. When the love of her life, Allen Ladd, passed away in 1981, White never remarried. Betty White herself never had any children, though she is the stepmother to Ladd’s three children.
When she passed, White owned two homes, one in Carmel, California, and one in Brentwood, California. Both homes were sold by her estate, the Brentwood home for around $5 million and the Carmel home for over $10 million. When she passed, Betty White had a net worth of over $75 million. To date, it is not clear who is going to benefit from her large net worth. Chances are her three stepchildren will see a nice sum, but betting money says that White left a nominal amount to her various animal charities.
Betty White had an amazing career that lasted over eight decades. She brought joy to so many people wherever she went, and it is a shame that she didn’t quite make it to 100. Thankfully her work can still be seen in reruns and on streaming services. Her ability to make us smile will never go away.