The world’s eternal golden girl Betty White passed away in Los Angeles on Friday, just 18 days shy of her 100th birthday.
But fans of the beloved comic actress initially believed the news was a sinister hoax pulled by pranksters on the last day of 2021.
White had been subject to multiple death hoaxes over the years — most memorably in 2014, when a satirical headline about her hair, titled “Betty White Dyes Peacefully in her Los Angeles Home,” was widely misinterpreted.
On Friday, fans were hoping news of the Hollywood icon’s death was yet more fake news — and took to Twitter to share their wishful thinking.
“Not believing Betty White has died until her official social medias say something,” one skeptic posted. “I scream hoax cause its’ close to her birthday. Sorry 2021, YOU DON’T GET TO HAVE HER.”
Some claimed that it was too coincidental that White has died on the final day of a horror year, which was wrought by the ongoing pandemic, political division and a series of natural disasters.
“There’s no f—ing way 2021 took away Betty White at the last second. Please let this be a hoax,” a devastated fan wrote.
“I thought it was another hoax, just when we thought we could escape the wrath of 2021 we done lost Betty white at the last damn minute,” another chimed in. “This is unreal.”
After the 2014 Empire News article sparked death rumors, her rep was forced to come out and state that the actress was alive and well.
However, numerous outlets continued to run with rumors that she had passed away.
The article continued to circulate on the internet, and was picked up again in November 2019, resulting in a second wave of fear that White had died.
Despite wishful thinking from fans, White’s passing on Friday was confirmed by her agent and close friend Jeff Witjas in a statement shared with People magazine.
“Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever,” Witjas said.
“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.”
Meanwhile, a legion of famous friends flocked to social media to pay tribute to White in the wake of her death.
Valerie Bertinelli, Seth Meyers, Debra Messing, Andy Cohen, Ellen DeGeneres and Mario Lopez were among the big names to tweet tributes just minutes after the news was revealed.